Speaking at the opening of the main annual meeting of WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus praised the work of healthcare professionals around the world, noting that “many of them have been infected themselves, and although reports are rare, we estimate that at least 115,000 health and care workers have paid the ultimate price in the service of others.
He warned 18 months after the start of the pandemic that the situation remains precarious and that “according to current trends, the number of deaths will exceed last year’s total in the next three weeks”.
“No country should assume it’s out of the woods, regardless of its vaccination rate. So far, no variant has emerged that significantly compromises the effectiveness of vaccines, diagnostics or therapies. But there is no guarantee that this will remain the case.
“We need to be very clear: the pandemic is not over, and it will not be over until transmission is controlled in every last country,” he continued.
More than 3.4 million people have so far died from COVID-19, according to a count from Johns Hopkins University. We know that 167 million more have contracted the disease.
Vaccinations around the world began in earnest in December, but Dr Tedros denounced “scandalous inequity” in access.
“More than 75% of all vaccines have been given in just 10 countries. There is no diplomatic way to say it: a small group of countries that manufacture and buy the majority of vaccines in the world control the fate of the rest of the world, ”he said.
The WHO chief said the doses administered so far would have been sufficient to immunize all healthcare professionals and older people around the world.
According to Our World in Data, more than 1.6 billion doses of vaccines have been administered worldwide. Just under 600 million of them have been given in the US, EU, UK, Israel and Canada, while China has used more than 510 million doses.
Meanwhile, the COVAX program, co-led by WHO, has managed to deliver just 72 million doses to its 92 low- and middle-income beneficiary countries.
“These doses are sufficient for just 1 percent of the total population of these countries,” said Dr Tedros.
He urged member states to “support a massive push” to immunize at least 10 percent of each country’s population by September, and to increase donations so that vaccinations reach 30 percent by the end of the year. the year.
He said these were “the minimum goals we should be aiming for” and that there was “critical importance in stopping serious illness and death, keeping our health workers safe, and reopening our societies and economies. “.