World Health Organization's Special Envoy on Covid-19 David Nabarro has said there is currently a shortage of Covid-19 vaccines and it will stay like that for several months.

Speaking on Sky's Sophy Ridge on Sunday, he said the world should be accessing vaccines in an equal way, stating the only way to deal with a pandemic is to get "fair shares" to all countries. 

"I think it is time for a global debate on what the priorities need to be."

He said he is hopeful world leaders will realise that a few countries vaccinating a lot of people and poorer countries having very little access is not the right way, politically, socially, economically or morally. 

"Do we want to be remembered where those who had the cash could afford to vaccinate their whole populations and those who didn't had to deal with increasing death rates? I don't think this is how any individual wants to be seen."

He explained how they have established a scheme called COVAX, where he is hopeful it will mean all leaders will agree to a fair sharing of vaccines. 

"In the end it is one virus affecting the whole world. We are all at risk and we need to deal with it together."

He said the priority is vaccinating people who are most at risk first, those getting seriously ill or dying from this disease. 

He said they are susceptible because of age, health conditions or where they work.

Mr Nabarro also said we need to remain focused on what we are doing inside our communities in terms of staying apart, wearing masks and self isolating when we are sick.

He also said we need really strong public health-led services in the community.

"Then once those are in place we will continue to see the numbers coming down."

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He said ultimately it is our self-discipline that will keep this virus contained. 

Regarding new variants and the dangers they pose, he said some of them are worrying but we know they are going to come and keep on coming and vaccines will need to be modified accordingly. 

"Scientists are good at adapting vaccines."

He said each country will have to work out its own travel rules, based on their understanding of the dangers posed by the variants.

Reflecting on the fact-finding mission on the origins of the virus that is taking place in China by a team from the World Health Organization he said it is early days and described it as detective work.

He said it is looking at "lots of different leads" and said it is "never clean and easy".

He said there has been great co-operation with authorities in China but admitted that it might take quite some time before they get any results. 

He said among the theories that will be looked at will include the theory of it possibly originating in a laboratory incident and that will have to be assessed. 

"I can't rule out anything out."

UK will not introduce Covid-19 vaccine passports

Meanwhile, the UK will not introduce Covid-19 vaccine passports, but people will be able to seek proof from their doctor if needed for travel to other countries, vaccine deployment minister Nadhim Zahawi has said.

"We are certainly not looking to introduce it as part of the vaccine deployment programme," Mr Zahawi told Sky News.

Vaccinations set to start in Brazil

The first batch of active ingredients produced by Chinese companies to make AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine in Brazil arrived in Rio de Janeiro yesterday. 

The supply was directly sent to the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation based in Rio after being unloaded from a cargo plane.

Brazilian Health Minister Eduardo Pazuello and representatives of the foundation attended the reception ceremony. 

The foundation said it will complete the inspection of the pharmaceutical ingredients by Wednesday and start vaccine production on Friday. 

The South American country began its vaccination program on 17 January, after the Health Regulatory Agency (Anvisa) under the health ministry authorized the emergency use of the CoronaVac vaccine, developed by Chinese pharmaceutical firm Sinovac, and a vaccine by British-Swedish company AstraZeneca in collaboration with Oxford University. 

The Oswaldo Cruz Foundation, as a cooperative research and development partner of Oxford University and AstraZeneca in Brazil, will use the active materials imported from Chinese companies to produce the Covid-19 vaccine locally. 

As of yesterday, Brazil had registered 231,012 Covid-19 deaths and a total of 9,497,795 confirmed cases, said the Ministry of Health.

US leads world in most Covid infections and deaths

The United States had recorded more than 26.90 million Covid-19 cases with over 460,000 related deaths as of yesterday, leading the world with the most Covid-19 infections and deaths, according to the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University. 

The national case count rose to 26,901,496 with 461,869 fatalities as of 18.22 Eastern Standard Time (EST) yesterday. 

Compared with the data released about the same time in the previous day, there were 108,797 new Covid-19 cases and 2,884 new deaths in the US within the past 24 hours, according to the CSSE tally. 

California reported 3,402,395 cases, followed by Texas with 2,485,569 cases and Florida with 1,771,359 cases. The state of New York registered over 1.4 million cases and Illinois more than 1.1 million cases. 

The country, which makes up about 4% of the world population, now accounts for over one-quarter of over 105.7 million cases and 20 percent of  2.3 million deaths reported worldwide, showed the university's data. 

More than 100,000 people in the United States have died of Covid-19 since 1 January this year as the country are ramping up vaccine rollout, according to the university's data. 

An influential coronavirus model has predicted an estimated 631,000 Covid-19 deaths in the United States by 1 June.

According to the latest forecast from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington, the result depends on the vaccine rollout and the spread of variants. A worst-case scenario could see the death toll go as high as 703,000. 

Increasing mask use from the current levels of 77% to 95% can save 44,000 lives by 1 June, according to the model.

The national ensemble forecast of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) predicts that the number of newly reported Covid-19 deaths will likely decrease over the next four weeks, with 11,300 to 22,600 new deaths likely reported in the week ending 27 February. 

The national ensemble predicts that a total of 496,000 to 534,000 Covid-19 deaths will be reported by 27 February.

Covid-19 cases and hospitalisations are declining from recent surges across the United States, but health experts warn more contagious coronavirus strains may threaten to undo progress and lead to a resurgence.

US President Joe Biden's national vaccination campaign aims to administer 100 million doses of two-stage coronavirus vaccination in his first 100 days in office. 

Mr Biden has called for setting up 100 mass vaccination centers around the country within a month. 

Over 59.3 million vaccine doses have been distributed across the United States as of Friday, but only about 39 million doses have been administered, the CDC data show.