JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) – The World Health Organization said on Thursday that countries in the Asia-Pacific region are not guaranteed early access to COVID-19 recordings and urged them to take a long-term approach to the pandemic.
“The development of safe and effective vaccines is one thing. Producing them in sufficient quantities and reaching everyone who needs them is another, ”said Dr. Takeshi Kasai, WHO regional director, told reporters in the Indonesian capital Jakarta.
While some countries that have independent vaccine purchase agreements may launch vaccination campaigns in the coming months, other countries may see vaccination begin in mid or late 2021, said Dr. Socorro Escalante, WHO Coordinator for Essential Medicines and Health Technologies.
“It is important to emphasize that most, if not all, of the Western Pacific countries are part of the COVAX facility,” said Escalante. “Within the COVAX facility, we expect the vaccines to arrive in the second quarter of 2021.”
COVAX was founded by the WHO, the vaccine alliance GAVI and CEPI, a global coalition to fight epidemics, in an effort to ensure fair access to vaccines around the world.
WHO representatives also insisted that high-risk groups should be given priority in vaccination, as vaccines will only be available in limited quantities.
The health agency warned that mass vaccination will not stop the virus and that governments should adopt a long-term mindset and approach when new cases are discovered, including more testing, contact tracking and quarantine measures.
“The virus is not resting, so we need to continue with our responses to make sure they are implemented consistently,” said Dr. Babatunde Olowokure, WHO Regional Emergency Director.
Olowokure also called on younger people – who represent a growing number of new confirmed cases in the region – to adhere to social disassociation and other measures.
WHO’s Western Pacific region is home to nearly 1.9 billion people in 37 countries and territories.
Worldwide, the virus has infected more than 74 million people and killed more than 1.6 million people. More than 41.9 million people have recovered from the disease.
The Associated Press Department of Health and Science is supported by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Science Education Department. The AP is solely responsible for all content.