Covid-19 health emergency could be over this year, WHO says

Covid-19 health emergency could be over this year, WHO says

The head of emergencies at the World Health Organization said on Tuesday that the worst of the coronavirus pandemic ‘deaths, hospitalizations and lockdowns’ could be over if huge disparities in vaccination and medicines are addressed quickly. Speaking during a panel discussion on Vaccine Inequality organized by the World Economic Forum, Dr Michael Ryan said, ‘We can never eliminate the virus’ as such pandemics become part of the virus ecosystem.

But “we have a chance to end the public health emergency this year if we do the things we’ve been talking about,” he said. The WHO has described the imbalance in COVID-19 vaccination between rich and poor countries as a catastrophic moral failure. Fewer than 10 people in low-income countries have received a single dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Ryan told a virtual gathering of world and business leaders that if vaccines and other tools are not shared appropriately, the tragedy of the virus, which has so far killed more than 5.5 million people worldwide, will continue . “We need to get our population down to low levels of disease, with maximum vaccinations, so that nobody dies,” Ryan said. ‘The point is: this is death. He is admitted in the hospital. It is the disruption of our social, economic, political system that has caused this tragedy not a virus.”

Ryan also participated in a growing debate about whether Covid-19 should be considered endemic, a label some countries like Spain have said to help better live with the virus, or even a ‘pandemic’ in which many countries have included the intensive measures taken to fight. spread.

‘Endemic malaria kills hundreds of thousands of people; endemic HIV; Endemic violence in our inner cities. Spatial in itself does not mean good. Endemic means it’s here forever,” he said. Public health officials warn that it’s highly unlikely that COVID-19 will end and say it will continue to kill people, albeit at a much lower rate. level, even after it is endemic.

Fellow panelist Gabriella Butcher, executive director of the anti-poverty organization Oxfam International, cited the “huge urgency” of the need for fair distribution and mass production of vaccines. She said resources to fight the pandemic were being pooled by ‘some companies and some shareholders.’

John Nkengsong, director of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, condemned the ‘total collapse of global cooperation and solidarity’ over the past two years, saying it was ‘totally unacceptable’ how many people in Africa have received vaccine shots . His agency says only 37 in 10 of Africa’s 1.2 billion people are fully vaccinated.

He tried to dispel the belief among some that vaccine hesitation is widespread in Africa, citing studies showing that 37 out of 80 Africans were willing to take the shots if vaccines were available. The comments came on the second day of the online option of the World Economic Forum’s annual gathering, which was postponed due to pandemic health concerns.

In speeches at the event, world leaders such as Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett discussed the approach to the pandemic. He said his country, which has rapidly launched a massive vaccination campaign, has a strategy to be “at the forefront of medicines and vaccines” against COVID-19. Israel’s health ministry says 62 people have been fully vaccinated, including booster shots.

“We want to be the first in the world to learn how vaccines and newer versions respond to each other,” Bennett said, citing advanced research in Israel. Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said his country had high levels of vaccinations because the society values ​​protecting the elderly and vulnerable. He plans to put in place tight border controls by the end of February.

He said he was trying to balance sanctions with keeping the economy open, but that a “zero COVID policy against the Omron version is not possible nor justified.” In a separate press briefing on Tuesday, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the Omicron version was `continuing worldwide, with 18 million new Covid-19 cases reported last week.

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