The world is in the early stages of a new wave of infections and deaths from Covid-19, World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tantros Antanom Gebregesus warned again on Wednesday.
Speaking to members of the International Olympic Committee in Tokyo, the WHO director-general said the global failure to distribute vaccines and provide tests and treatments was fueling a “pandemic on two tracks”.
Countries with adequate resources such as vaccines are opening up, while others are closing in an effort to slow the spread of the virus. Vacancies in vaccine supplies around the world are a “terrible injustice,” he added.
“This is not just morally outrageous, but it is epidemiologically and financially self-destructive,” Tentros said, adding that the longer the pandemic persists, the more socio-economic unrest it will cause. “The pandemic is a test and the world is failing,” he said.
The WHO director general warned that “19 months after the pandemic and seven months after the first vaccines were approved, we are now in the early stages of a new wave of infections and deaths.” The global threat of a pandemic will remain until all countries have the ability to deal with the disease, he added.
The celebration of hope
The Tokyo Olympics are set to begin on Friday after being postponed due to a pandemic last year.
Rising numbers of Covid-19 cases in Tokyo overshadowed the Games, barring all spectators from this month's games as Japan declared a state of emergency.
Cases around the Japanese capital are rising by more than 1,000 new infections daily in recent days. Nationwide, Japan has reported more than 848,000 infections and more than 15,000 deaths amid a relatively slow release of vaccines.
The first positive case of Covid-19 hit the Olympic Village at the weekend and, so far, more than 70 cases have been linked to the Tokyo Games.
Commenting on the Games, the WHO Director-General said that the Games are a celebration, “something that our people need now, more than ever – a celebration of hope”. While the pandemic may have postponed the games, he stressed that he did not “defeat” them.
The Center criticized inequalities in vaccine supplies between rich and low-income countries. As he said, 75% of all doses – more than 3.5 billion doses – have been given in just 10 countries, while only 1% of people in poorer nations have received at least one dose.
“Vaccines are powerful and essential tools. “But people have not used them well,” he said, adding that instead of being widely used, the doses have been concentrated in the “hands of the lucky few”.
The World Health Organization has called for a massive global push to vaccinate at least 70% of the population in each country by the middle of next year.
“The pandemic will end when people choose to end it. “It's in our hands,” he said. “We have all the tools we need: we can prevent this disease, we can try it and we can tackle it,” he said, calling on the world's leading economies to step up their efforts by distributing vaccines and funding global efforts to make them more affordable. , as well as encourage companies to increase vaccine production.
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