Tedros Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), is optimistic that the COVID-19 epidemic would be over by 2022.
Ghebreyesus said at a news conference on Wednesday that a new global threat appeared two years ago when people gathered for New Year’s Eve celebrations.
Since then, there have been 1.8 million fatalities in 2020 and 3.5 million in 2021, but the true amount is significantly greater.
Millions of individuals are also suffering from the virus’s long-term ramifications.
Delta and Omicron are now driving up case numbers to new highs, resulting in an increase in hospitalizations and deaths.
Ghebreyesus expressed grave worry that the more transmissible Omicron virus, which is circulating at the same time as Delta, is causing a “tsunami of cases.”
WHO has urged leaders to vaccinate 40% of their people by the end of 2021 and 70% by the middle of 2022 during meetings of the world’s largest economies – the G7 and G20.
With barely a few days remaining in the year, 92 of the 194 Member States failed to meet the deadline.
He ascribed this to low-income nations obtaining a limited supply for most of the year, followed by vaccines that were near to expiring and were missing crucial components such as syringes.
“Forty per cent was doable. It’s not only a moral shame, it cost lives and provided the virus with opportunities to circulate unchecked and mutate,” he said.
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The WHO director cautioned that boosts from affluent nations might force low-income countries to fall behind again, and urged wealthy leaders and manufacturers to work together to meet the 70% target by July.
“This is the time to rise above short-term nationalism and protect populations and economies against future variants by ending global vaccine inequity.
“We have 185 days to the finish line of achieving 70 per cent by the start of July 2022. And the clock starts now,” he said
The director-general acknowledged early on that combating the new health hazard would need science, solutions, and unity.
While praising certain achievements, such as the creation of new vaccinations, which he described as “scientific masterclasses,” the WHO official bemoaned the fact that politics frequently prevailed over unity.
“Populism, narrow nationalism and hoarding of health tools, including masks, therapeutics, diagnostics and vaccines, by a small number of countries undermined equity, and created the ideal conditions for the emergence of new variants,” he said.
Furthermore, “misinformation and deception have been a continual distraction, weakening research and belief in life-saving health interventions,” according to the report.
Huge waves of illnesses have swept Europe and many other nations, leading the unvaccinated to die in disproportionately large numbers.
Unvaccinated people are much more likely to die from either form.
As the pandemic progresses, new variations may develop that are completely resistant to present vaccinations or infection, needing vaccine changes.
It is critical for Ghebreyesus to build up local manufacturing supplies since each new vaccine update might result in a fresh supply constraint.
He believes that pooling technology, such as the new WHO Bio Hub System, a means for freely sharing unique biological materials, is one option to expand the development of life-saving instruments.
He also mentioned the newly established WHO Pandemic and Epidemic Intelligence Hub, which is situated in Berlin, Germany.
The WHO director-general urged for the creation of a new international agreement, calling it “a critical pillar” of a world better equipped to deal with the next pandemic.
“I hope to see negotiations move swiftly and leaders to act with ambition,” he said.