World Health Organization (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Friday urged countries and drugmakers to help speed up the manufacture and distribution of vaccines across the globe, warning that the world could be “back at square one” if some countries went ahead with their vaccination campaigns and left others behind. “Vaccine equity is not just the right thing to do, it’s also the smart thing to do.
The longer it takes to suppress the virus everywhere, the more opportunity it has to change in ways that could make vaccines less effective – an opportunity to mutate,” Tedros said at the Munich Security Conference. According to The New York Times, wealthy countries have come under increased criticism in recent weeks for stockpiling doses and keeping them away from low and middle-income countries. Tedros used his comments to condemn the approach to public health in many countries, which he called “a failure even in the most advanced economies in our world.”
“It affects everything, and the whole world is now taken hostage by a small virus,” he said. Bill Gates, the billionaire philanthropist, said that the tragedy now unfolding across the world because of the pandemic could have been largely avoided. “It is a tragedy that the modest steps that would have been required to contain this epidemic were not taken in advance,” he said, as quoted by NYT.
Whether the global community is successful in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, Tedros answered ‘yes’ citing a decrease in new cases and fatalities. “Are we succeeding? Yes, cases and deaths are declining, we have a toolbox of proven public health measures, and we now have powerful new tools that we could only dream about a year ago.
But we must make sure we use those tools effectively, which means using them in all countries to protect the most at-risk group,” the WHO chief said. NYT reported that more than 190 million people have been vaccinated worldwide, but almost none in Africa. Bodies have piled up on the streets in Bolivia, while in Mexico, oxygen shortage has led many to die at home.
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