Posted: Friday, December 31, 2021. 10:53 pm CST.
By Aaron Humes: Chief of the World Health Organization (WHO), Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus says he is optimistic for an end to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2022 – if countries are willing to work together to contain it, the BBC reports.
Dr Tedros, in a New Year’s statement two years since the first notification of a then-unknown pneumonia strain in China warned against “narrow nationalism and vaccine hoarding” but acknowledged that there are now many more tools to treat Covid-19.
Global Covid cases now stand at 287 million, while nearly 5.5 million people have died. The New Year’s arrival has been greeted by muted celebrations with official discouragement of crowds gathering, and COVID-19 has kept borders closed, split families, and made wearing a mask an every day, never mind unthinkable, occurrence.
Yet according to Dr Tedros, continuing inequity in vaccine distribution was increasing the risk of the virus evolving.
“Narrow nationalism and vaccine hoarding by some countries have undermined equity and created the ideal conditions for the emergence of the Omicron variant, and the longer inequity continues, the higher the risks of the virus evolving in ways we can’t prevent or predict,” he said.
“If we end inequity, we end the pandemic,” he added.
In his comments, Dr Tedros also alluded to low vaccination rates. While most of the population in Europe and the Americas have received at least one dose, a WHO target of full vaccination rates in 40 percent of every country by the end of 2021 has been missed across most of Africa.
Dr Tedros has previously criticized wealthier nations for “gobbling up” the global vaccine supply, fully vaccinating much of their populations while others wait for their first doses.
The WHO has set a new goal for 2022: vaccinate 70 percent of people in all countries by July to end the pandemic.
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