Minister to WHO: People of all countries should have access to vaccines

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Social affairs minister Tanel Kiik (Center). Source: ERR

Health minister Tanel Kiik (Center) says anti-coronavirus vaccines must be available to the bulk of the populace in all countries if the coronavirus pandemic is to be halted. Kiik was speaking to the World Health Organization's (WHO) decision-making body, which he is a vice-president of, on Monday.

Kiik said at the virtual meeting that: "Ensuring the sustainability of healthcare systems plus the limited human access to COVID-19 vaccines are major challenges in preventing the global spread of the coronavirus." 

"None of us will be protected from this serious disease until a sufficient level of vaccination has been achieved around the world. The COVAX vaccine distribution initiative, which the Estonian state also contributes to, has an important role to play in improving the global availability of COVID-19 vaccines," Kiik went on, according to a social affairs ministry press release.

The 74th World Health Assembly – WHO's highest-level decision-making body – began work on Monday and continues through to June 1.

WHO says 75 percent of all coronavirus vaccine doses have been dispensed in just 10 countries world-wide, with less than 0.5 percent of all vaccine doses produced going to lower-income countries.

The COVAX initiative aims to address this by delivering more than 2 billion doses of vaccine to countries through 2021 and aiming to ensure their fair distribution among all participating countries.

The benchmark here is 20 percent vaccination across all countries. Estonia, with 1.3 million inhabitants, has seen 442,089 people vaccinated at the time of writing, with a little over half these – 228,280 people – having completed the course, i.e. received two doses.

The 74th World Health Assembly's main goals are the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the strengthening of WHO and the role of the organization in the global health system, including via global patient safety activities, global strategic directions in nursing and midwifery, the management of antimicrobial resistance, and progress towards global sustainable development goals, the social affairs ministry reported.

The UN's 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was approved nearly six years ago and called for an end to poverty and the continued fight against climate change and inequality, as well as a better quality of life for all, which would include universal free health care access.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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