WHO Chief Says Pandemic Is “Nowhere Near Over,” Warning About Vaccine Inequity

On Tuesday, the head of the World Health Organization urged countries to not let Omicron waves get in their way. appearto have reached their highest levels in some parts of the world, a trend that some countries have cited to justify lifting public safety measures.

During his weekly media briefing, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus voiced hope that “the worst of this latest wave is done with” but stressed that “no country is out of the woods yet” as infection rates remain at record levelsAround the world

“I remain particularly concerned about many countries that have low vaccination rates, as people are many times more at risk of severe illness and death if they’re unvaccinated,” said Tedros. “Omicron may be less severe, on average of course, but the narrative that it is mild disease is misleading, hurts the overall response, and costs more lives.”

“Make no mistake, Omicron is causing hospitalizations and deaths, and even the less severe cases are inundating health facilities,” he continued. “This pandemic is nowhere near over, and with the incredible growth of Omicron globally, new variants are likely to emerge, which is why tracking and assessment remain critical.”

While some recent developments — such as the Texas Children’s Hospital’s creation of a coronavirus vaccine that it has vowed to share patent-free — have spurred hopes of more equitable pandemic response efforts in the near future, just 9.6%As the global crisis in health enters its third year, many people living in low-income countries have received at most one vaccine dose.

Low-income countries have had to rely on insufficient amounts of donated doses as a result of the hoarding of vaccine technology and doses by pharmaceutical giants and rich countries. deliveredThey are close to expiry dates.

Rich countries are on track to throw away hundreds of millions of coronavirus vaccine dosages they bought for booster-shot campaigns. According toAirfinity has released a new analysis that shows that the 240 million doses purchased recently by the United States of America, Canada, Japan and Canada are set to expire unutilized by March.

“Even after successful booster rollouts, there are surplus doses available that risk going to waste if not shared very soon,” Rasmus Bech Hansen, Airfinity’s CEO, said in a statement. “The emergence of Omicron and the likelihood of future variants shows there is no time to waste.”

Tedros raised similar concerns Tuesday, warning that “unless we change the current model, we’ll enter a second and even more destructive phase of vaccine inequity.” The WHO chief said COVAX, the United Nations-backed vaccine initiative, delivered its one-billionth dose this past weekend, but a recent analysisGlobally, it is estimated that 22 billion additional mRNA vaccine doses will be needed to end the pandemic.

“We need to make sure we share current vaccines equitably and we develop distributed manufacturing around the world,” Tedros said.