The World Health Organization (WHO) on Sunday announced it has delivered 1 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses through its global COVAX program.
According to the United Nations-backed health organization, a recent shipment of 1.1 million COVID-19 vaccines to Rwanda included the billionth vaccine dose delivered through COVAX. The WHO has delivered vaccines to 144 member countries so far.
Despite this milestone, the WHO acknowledged there is still a ways to go in the vaccination effort of its member countries, with 36 members having vaccinated less than 10 percent of their populations and 88 members having vaccinated less than 40 percent.
"COVAX's ambition was compromised by hoarding/stockpiling in rich countries, catastrophic outbreaks leading to borders and supply being locked. And a lack of sharing of licenses, technology and know how by pharmaceutical companies meant manufacturing capacity went unused," the WHO said.
The issue of vaccine hoarding among wealthier nations has been a frequent point of contention for global health organizations, including the WHO. The organization's director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, repeatedly called for moratoriums on vaccine boosters among richer nations as low and middle-income countries struggled to vaccinate their people.
During a press briefing in late December, Ghebreyesus blamed "populism, narrow nationalism and hoarding of health tools" for the emergence of new variants like the omicron variant that has quickly become the most common strain in many countries.