Almost 130 countries, with 2.5 billion people, are yet to administer a single dose of Covid-19 vaccine up to now.
And only 10 nations accounted for more than three-quarters of the 128 million Covid-19 vaccine doses administered so far, Unicef Executive Director Henrietta Fore and World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Wednesday.
This self-defeating strategy would cost lives and livelihoods, giving the virus further opportunity to mutate and evade vaccines and would undermine a global economic recovery, they said.
The heads of Unicef and the WHO also called on leaders to look beyond their borders and employ a vaccine strategy that can end the pandemic and limit variants.
"Health workers have been on the frontlines of the pandemic in lower- and middle-income settings and should be protected first so they can protect us," they said.
"Covax participating countries are preparing to receive and use vaccines. Health workers have been trained, cold chain systems primed. What is missing is the equitable supply of vaccines," Henrietta and Tedros continued.
To begin vaccine rollouts in all countries within the first 100 days of 2021, they recommended that governments that have vaccinated their health workers and populations at highest risk of severe disease share vaccines through Covax so other countries can do the same.
The Access to Covid-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, and its vaccines pillar Covax, is fully funded so that financing and technical support are available to lower- and middle-income countries for deploying and administering vaccines.
If fully funded, the ACT Accelerator could return up to $ 166 for every dollar invested.
"We need global leadership to scale up vaccine production and achieve vaccine equity. Covid-19 has shown that our fates are inextricably linked. Whether we win or lose, we will do so together," the heads of Unicef and the WHO said.