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WTO director is very concerned about unequal distribution

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Director General of WTO, speaking at a press conference.

FABRICE COFFRINI | AFP | beautiful pictures

The head of the World Trade Organization warned on Thursday that the uneven distribution of a Covid vaccine around the world could affect the economic recovery, the head of the World Trade Organization warned on Thursday, saying she was “very concerned” about the matter.

Wealthier countries have stocked up on the most limited numbers of Covid shots, while many low-income countries have struggled to get their hands on much-needed vaccines.

Data Collected by the WTO, the World Health Organization and the International Monetary Fund, it is found that while a percentage of the US population has ensured 248% of vaccines are produced, it is only 30% of the population. for Mali and 56% for Kenya.

To be sure, only 7% of the African population is fully immunized against the coronavirus, according to data compiled by Our World in Data. Meanwhile, the European Union and the United States have fully vaccinated about 67% and 58% of their populations, respectively.

“The level of inequality is pretty high,” Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Director-General of the WTO, told CNBC Thursday in an exclusive interview.

She noted that the post-pandemic economic recovery is linked to two determining factors: the amount of monetary and fiscal stimulus and access to a vaccine.

“I am very concerned that if we continue with inequality there will be a dampening effect on the recovery in those countries,” the Nigerian-born official said.

The question of vaccine accessibility arose shortly after health authorities in South Africa announced a new variant of Covid: omicron.

Health experts have long argued that the coronavirus will continue to thrive as long as parts of the world lack a vaccine.

The ‘painful decision’ to postpone the meeting

Following the new variant, some countries have re-imposed travel restrictions. This is the case for Switzerland, which has imposed a 10-day quarantine on travelers from certain countries.

Okonjo-Iweala said of the border restrictions: “They shouldn’t have been closed so hastily, stressing that the move could be an act to discourage countries from sharing relevant information. to Covid.

The trade organization was once again forced to postpone an important meeting scheduled for this week due to the discovery of a new Covid variant.

“It was a very painful decision,” Okonjo-Iweala said. The delay is seen as a blow to hopes of temporarily giving up patents for a Covid vaccine and achieving fairer access to the vaccine.

The WTO is also under pressure to update how it operates. This institution is often criticized as unfit for purpose when the international trade landscape is evolving and there are more and more disputes between countries and trading blocs, such as the US and China, the US and China. Europe..

Okonjo-Iweala previously said that reforming the WTO would be “very difficult because of the lack of trust among members”, according to Reuters.

“While the postponement of the meeting is not the fault of the WTO, we are continuing to work at a rapid pace, adding that it is not entirely true that nothing is moving,” she told CNBC. “.

https://www.cnbc.com/2021/12/02/covid-vaccines-wto-chief-very-concerned-about-unequal-distribution-.html WTO director is very concerned about unequal distribution

Sunbiz

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