Ending vaccine inequity key to ending COVID-19, says WHO chief

WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus says that by reaching the global target of vaccinating 70 percent of people in all countries by the middle of 2022, the world might see the end of the pandemic

Asian News International January 03, 2022 16:45:00 IST
Ending vaccine inequity key to ending COVID-19, says WHO chief

A screengrab of WHO Director Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. Twitter/@DrTedros

As the world enters its third year of the COVID-19 pandemic, the World Health Organisation (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said he was confident that the pandemic will end in 2022 "if we end inequity" together.

On Friday, Tedros said "while no country is out of the woods from the pandemic, we have many new tools to prevent and treat COVID-19. The longer inequity continues, the higher the risks of this virus evolving in ways we can't prevent or predict. If we end inequity, we end the pandemic."

As we enter the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic, I'm confident that this will be the year we end it - but only if we do it together, he said.

Highlighting that COVID-19 is not the only health threat the world's people will face next year, he said, millions of people have missed out on routine vaccination, services for family planning, treatment for communicable and non-communicable diseases.

He further said that WHO recommended broad use of the world's first malaria vaccine, which if introduced widely and urgently, could save tens of thousands of lives every year.

"The eradication of polio has never been closer, with just five cases recorded in the two remaining endemic countries. And tobacco use continues to decline. Meanwhile, WHO and our partners responded to crises around the world, including stopping new outbreaks of Ebola and Marburg," WHO chief said.

He further stated that to help prepare the world for future epidemics and pandemics, we established the new WHO BioHub System for countries to share novel biological materials.

And we opened the WHO Hub for Pandemic and Epidemic Intelligence in Berlin, to leverage innovations in data science for public health surveillance and response, WHO chief added.

He reiterated that "we need all countries to work together to reach the global target of vaccinating 70 per cent of people in all countries by the middle of 2022."

The world has recently witnessed a new variant of COVID-19, which has been detected in South Africa, as 'Omicron'. The WHO has classified Omicron as a 'variant of concern'.

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