Jun 7, 2021 - World

Global vaccine leader: Rich countries can fix COVID vaccine inequity

A leader of the global vaccination effort tells "Axios on HBO" that leaders of rich countries who "ignore the rest of the world" during pandemics are failing at their jobs.

The big picture: Countries like the U.S. have moved on to vaccinating children while health care workers in many countries still don't have enough doses to be fully vaccinated.

  • "It's a natural thing ... to try to protect one's own family," Dr. Seth Berkley told Jonathan Swan in the "Axios on HBO" interview.
  • "But if you do that and the virus is continuing to spread in other places and mutates, then you all — not just your children but the parents themselves — can be at risk of further outbreaks."

Berkley is CEO of Gavi, which helped found the international COVAX effort to secure doses for poorer countries.

  • The effort is flailing: COVAX is months behind schedule, as Axios World editor Dave Lawler reported last week.

The bottom line: Berkely told "Axios on HBO" that it's not his job to tell politicians what to do, but said it's "correct" that rich countries could fix the vaccine inequities if they wanted.

  • "I think we are seeing more of that now because I think country leaders are beginning to understand with these variants that in fact it is potentially a catastrophic crisis," he said.
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