COVID-19: New Year brings renewed WHO appeal for vaccine equity

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In his archetypal briefing of 2022, WHO main Tedros Ghebreyesus repeated his longstanding telephone for vaccine equity and solidarity to decision the crisis, present reaching into its 3rd year. 

“The dawn of a caller twelvemonth offers an accidental to renew our corporate effect to a shared threat,” helium said, speaking from Geneva. 

“I anticipation planetary leaders who person shown specified resoluteness successful protecting their ain populations volition widen that resolve, to marque definite that the full satellite is harmless and protected.” 

Share the tools 

WHO is acceptable to people its latest play epidemiological study connected COVID-19 connected Thursday. 

It shows that case numbers accrued astatine a planetary level by 71 per cent implicit the past 7 days, according to Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, the agency’s method pb connected COVID-19, speaking aboriginal successful the briefing. 

During this period, immoderate 9.5 cardinal cases were reported, “and we cognize that that is an underestimate,” she said, adding that “next week volition beryllium higher, due to the fact that successful the past 24 hours, much than 2.2 cardinal cases were reported.” 

Inequity kills 

Tedros described vaccine inequity arsenic “a slayer of radical and jobs”, which is besides undermining planetary economical recovery. Low vaccination rates person besides created the cleanable conditions for microorganism variants to emerge. 

He said the “tsunami” of Omicron cases has been overwhelming wellness systems crossed the world.  

“While Omicron does look to beryllium little terrible compared to Delta, particularly successful those vaccinated, it does not mean it should beryllium categorized arsenic ‘mild’,” helium cautioned. 

Although first-generation vaccines whitethorn not halt each COVID-19 infections and transmission, Tedros stressed that they stay highly effectual successful reducing hospitalizations and deaths. 

Falling short 

WHO has been advocating for countries to vaccinate 70 per cent of their populations by the mediate of 2022. Tedros warned that astatine the existent pace, immoderate 109 countries could miss this target. 

“The essence of the disparity is that immoderate countries are moving toward vaccinating citizens a 4th time, portion others haven’t adjacent had capable regular proviso to vaccinate their wellness workers and those astatine astir risk,” helium said. 

“Booster aft booster successful a tiny fig of countries volition not extremity a pandemic portion billions stay wholly unprotected.” 

Share and invest 

The satellite tin extremity vaccine inequity firstly by efficaciously sharing the doses that are being produced, helium said.  

“Second, let’s instrumentality a ‘never again’ attack to pandemic preparedness and vaccine manufacturing truthful that arsenic soon arsenic the adjacent procreation of COVID-19 vaccines go available, they are produced equitably and countries don’t person to beg for scarce resources,” helium advised. 

For its part, WHO volition proceed to put successful vaccine manufacturing hubs and enactment with immoderate and each manufacturers consenting to stock know-how, exertion and licenses. 

Tedros was encouraged by immoderate of the vaccines presently undergoing proceedings whose makers person already committed to waiving patents and sharing licenses, exertion and know-how. 

He besides appealed for concern successful nationalist wellness and wellness systems, including to guarantee beardown surveillance and capable testing, and workers who are supported and protected. 

The WHO main further called connected radical crossed the satellite to request that governments and pharmaceutical companies stock wellness tools globally to bring an extremity to the pandemic. 

An pistillate   attends a consultation earlier  receiving her COVID-19 vaccination successful  Herat city, Afghanistan. (file)

© UNICEF/Sayed Bidel

An pistillate attends a consultation earlier receiving her COVID-19 vaccination successful Herat city, Afghanistan. (file)

Responding to crises 

No spot is the connection of equity much existent than successful countries oregon regions dealing with humanitarian crises and struggle zones, said Tedros. 

WHO is connected the crushed successful these locations, reaching radical with assistance and supplies. 

In Afghanistan, helium said that until recently, implicit 3 quarters of wellness facilities had reported stock-outs of indispensable medicines, portion determination was besides a menace to keeping wellness workers connected the job.  

As of December, implicit 2,300 wellness facilities had received caller supplies. Additionally, 25,000 wellness workers person been paid, ensuring the functionality of 96 per cent of the country’s wellness system, done a associated effort betwixt WHO and sister agency, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF). 

In war-torn bluish Ethiopia, WHO dispatched immoderate 14 metric tonnes of aesculapian supplies to Afar, and different 70 metric tonnes to Amhara past month. 

However, the bureau has not been permitted to present supplies to the crisis-wracked Tigray portion since mid-July, contempt repeated requests. 

Tedros remarked that “the defacto blockade is preventing entree to humanitarian supplies, which is sidesplitting people.” 

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