Health and Healthcare Systems

COVID-19 vaccine must be a global public good: WHO briefing

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO) attends the signing of the memorandum of understanding between WHO and the WHO Foundation in Geneva, Switzerland, May 27, 2020.  Christopher Black/WHO/Handout via REUTERS THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY - RC26XG97ZKPF

'This vaccine exploits the cracks between us' - Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called for unity at Friday's WHO briefing. Image: Reuters

Joe Myers
Writer, Forum Agenda
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Global Health

  • The World Health Organization held a media briefing on 12 June, to update the public on the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
  • Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called on leaders to ensure any vaccine is a 'global public good'.
  • We heard more on the impact of the pandemic in the global south.

Any future COVID-19 pandemic must be a global public good, said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, on Friday 12 June.

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He told the WHO media briefing that political commitment is vital, but everyone has a role to play:

"This will be the commitment of not only the political leaders, but, I think, it's everybody's business too and the voice of every citizen globally will be important to assure access to vaccines and other products to those who need it."

He later called for general unity in fighting the virus. "This virus exploits the cracks between us," he said. "This virus exploits division between us. It's only when we're united that we can defeat it."

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Women should continue to breastfeed

Responding to two media questions, Dr Anshu Banerjee, Dr Maria Van Kerkhove and Dr Michael Ryan reiterated existing guidance that recommends women continue to breastfeed, even with suspected or confirmed cases.

"It [breastfeeding] has been associated with preventing a whole range of different diseases, including acute infections such as diarrhoea, pneumonia and a range of various infections," added Dr Ryan.

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A challenging situation in the global south

Dr Ryan also explored the ongoing challenges governments face in balancing public health and economic pressures.

"There is no playbook that can be written at a global level," he explained, discussing the balance that needs to be struck between keeping people at home to suppress the virus and the economic and social damage that would cause.

"We are concerned that we're still very much in the upswing of this pandemic in many countries, particularly of the global south," he added. "We are concerned that some countries are having difficulties in exiting the so-called lockdowns, as they're seeing increases in cases again."

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