WHO discourages Covid vax export bans


Following reports of Covid-19 vaccines being restricted for export, World Health Organization (WHO) officials have expressed their disapproval against the practice.

“The WHO is always very concerned about export bans on products that will help to end the acute phase of this pandemic,” Mariangela Simao, WHO Assistant-Director General for Access to Medicines and Health Products, said at a virtual press conference on Friday.

“So the WHO very much discourages the use of this type of measure,” she continued.

In a newsletter on Tuesday, European Council President Charles Michel said: “The UK and the US have imposed an outright ban on the export of vaccines or vaccine components produced on their territory.”

Both countries have denied the accusations, Xinhua news agency reported.

Asked about whether vaccines should be stockpiled at Friday’s press conference, Bruce Aylward, Senior Advisor on Organizational Change to the WHO Director-General, also advised against the practice.

“We’ve been pushed very hard from the COVAX side to ensure that any vial that comes to us will be used and put to work immediately,” he said, referencing the global WHO-led initiative to ensure vaccine equity.

“And that is really the mantra we’re trying to drive right throughout the entire response, is that every vial of vaccine as it comes off, as it becomes available off the production lines, that is immediately put to work,” he said.

Michael Ryan, Executive Director of WHO Health Emergencies Program, said at the press conference that success in protecting a country’s population should not result in the lack of access of other countries, which will give more permanent protection to the former, because no one is safe until everyone is safe.