Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg has called on world leaders to address the COVID-19 vaccine inequity between rich and poor countries, calling the situation a “tragedy.”
At a press conference for the World Health Organization (WHO) on April 19, Thunberg called on the international community, governments and vaccine developers to “step up their game” in addressing vaccine inequity.
“The international community must do more to address the tragedy that is vaccine inequity. We have the means at our disposal to correct the great imbalance that exists around the world today in the fight against COVID-19,” the 18-year-old said.
Thunberg said it was “completely unethical” for rich countries to vaccinate young and healthy people “at the expense of people in risk groups and on the frontlines in low- and middle-income countries.”
“The only morally right thing to do is to prioritize the people who are the most vulnerable, no matter whether they live in a high-income country or a low-income country,” Thunberg said.
Through her foundation, Thunberg will also donate €100,000 (US$ 120,657) to the WHO Foundation to support the COVAX Facility, a global initiative aimed to provide equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus praised Thunberg for “her commitment to making our world a healthier, safer, and fairer place for all people.”
“I urge the global community to follow Greta’s example and do what they can, in support of COVAX, to protect the world’s most vulnerable people from this pandemic,” Tedros also said.
According to WHO, an average of one in four people in high-income countries has received a COVID-19 vaccine. Meanwhile, only one in over 500 people in low-income countries have received it.
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