'Completely unethical': Greta Thunberg attacks rich countries vaccinating the young and healthy

Rebecca Speare-Cole
·3 min read

Watch: Greta Thunberg - vaccine nationalism is 'completely unethical'

Greta Thunberg has slammed rich countries already vaccinating young and healthy people against coronavirus as "completely unethical".

The climate change activist told a World Health Organization (WHO) news conference on Monday that “global problems” need “global solutions” as she backed its campaign for vaccine equity.

She spoke after donating 10,000 euros to the COVAX programme, which aims to help countries get access to vaccines.

Read: COVID deaths in UK hit single figures for first time since before second wave

Thunberg told the briefing: “During this pandemic, we have seen what we can achieve when we put resources into science. Vaccines were developed in record time.

“But, so far, on average one in four people in high-income countries have received a coronavirus vaccine compared to just one in over 500 in low and middle-income countries.

“The international community, government and vaccine developers must step up their game and address the tragedy that is vaccine inequity.”

File photo dated 23/4/2019 of Greta Thunberg who has said that climate experts are not being listened to despite the coronavirus pandemic highlighting the importance of following science.
Greta Thunberg, pictured in 2019, told a WHO news conference that 'global problems' need 'global solutions' as she backed its campaign for vaccine equity. (PA)

Thunberg also said the world has the tools to correct this “great imbalance”, saying: ”Those who are the most vulnerable need to be prioritised and global problems require global solutions.”

She also criticised countries vaccinating younger and healthier groups while those who are at risk in poorer countries go without.

The activist said: “It is completely unethical that high-income countries are now vaccinating young and healthy people if that happens at the expense of those in risk groups and on the frontlines in low and middle-income countries and this is a moral test.

“We talk today about showing solidarity and yet vaccine nationalism is what’s running the vaccine distribution.”

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Thunberg also spoke about how the pandemic links back to the climate crisis, saying “more frequent and more devastating pandemics” will hit the world unless “we drastically change our ways”.

She said: “Today, up to 75% of all emerging diseases come from animals and, as we are cutting down forests and destroying habitats, we are creating the ideal conditions for diseases to spill over from one animal to another and then to us.

“We can no longer separate the health crisis from the ecological crisis and we cannot separate the ecological crisis from the climate crisis. It’s all interlinked in many ways.”

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It comes as the WHO continues its campaign for vaccine equity around the world.

WHO director-general Tedros Ghebreyesus has repeatedly warned of a “moral catastrophe” as rich countries buy up vaccine supplies.

The UK is among the countries racing ahead, having administered the first dose to more than 30 million people out of a population of 66 million.

WHO has also been campaigning for support of the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access Facility - or COVAX.

The global collaboration aims to speed up the development, manufacture and equitable distribution of new vaccines.

Countries that sign up for the programme will get access to new vaccine candidates.

Thunberg said she was supporting COVAX as the “best path forward to equitable vaccine distribution.”