MANILA - There is still a "major imbalance" in the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines globally, an official from the World Health Organization said Thursday.
Dr. Babatunde Olowokure, WHO regional emergency director for the Western Pacific, called on wealthier nations to help poorer countries get more vaccines quickly.
"Although significant progress has been made, there remains a major imbalance in the distribution of this vaccine," he told ANC's "Rundown".
To date, more than 3.4 billion jabs have been administered worldwide against the illness, Olowokure said.
Of the 129 million doses shipped to 136 participants through the vaccine sharing scheme COVAX facility, more than 21 million were delivered in the Western Pacific Region, he added.
"So, WHO is now calling for a massive vaccine push to vaccinate at least 40 percent of the population of every country by the end of the year and 70 percent by mid next year," he said.
"If we meet those targets, not just in the Philippines, but elsewhere in the region and globally, we cannot only end the pandemic, we can also reboot the global economy. So, as you are aware, until all countries are safe, no country is safe," he added.
Olowokure warned against presence of the more contagious Delta variant, first detected in India, which is driving the surges in many countries.
He said there were also 3 reasons for the COVID-19 spikes. First, people not following the recommended prevention measures. Second, systems are not in place to detect cases early. Lastly, insufficient quick response to small outbreaks.
"However, the most important thing to note is that with all the new variants, current evidence shows that the same prevention measures will work," he said.
"That means continuing to detect, test and isolate, take targeted measures as required, vaccinate priority groups as quickly as possible, and for communities to keep following the local health advice and get vaccinated when it’s their turn," he added.
So far, the Western Pacific has logged over 4 million coronavirus infections, of which 60,000 have succumbed to the disease.