| WHO hopes to start vaccination in poorer countries in February

The World Health Organisation (WHO) headquarters.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) headquarters.

Fabrice Coffrini, AFP via Getty Images)

The World Health Organisation hopes to be able to launch Covid-19 vaccines in poor and lower middle-income countries in February through its COVAX programme, WHO Senior Adviser Bruce Aylward said on Monday.

“Over 40 countries have now begun vaccinating against Covid-19. However all of that vaccination, or virtually all, was in high income or middle income countries so far,” he said. “We have got to see vaccines going into arms in lower and lower-middle income countries.”

He said the COVAX programme could begin vaccinating people in February, and there was an effort to speed it up so some vaccinations in poor countries could take place this month.

Meanwhile, WHO also said it had been notified by Japan of a new variant of the coronavirus discovered there.

Japan’s health ministry said on Sunday it had detected a new coronavirus variant in four travellers from Brazil’s Amazonas state. The variant featured 12 mutations, including one also found in highly infections variants discovered in England and South Africa.

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