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No single tool can defeat COVID-19 pandemic, says WHO

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Lara Adejoro

The World Health Organisation says there is a need for a comprehensive approach to fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, noting that a combination of vaccines and proven public health and social measures are needed to defeat the viral disease.

Speaking during the virtual media briefing on COVID-19 on Wednesday, the Director-General of WHO, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, noted that there is no single tool that will defeat the pandemic.

He said more than four billion vaccine doses have been administered globally but more than 80 per cent have gone to high- and upper-middle-income countries, even though they account for less than half of the world’s population.

“I understand the concern of all governments to protect their people from the Delta variant.

“But we cannot accept countries that have already used most of the global supply of vaccines using even more of it, while the world’s most vulnerable people remain unprotected.

“In late May, I called for global support for a “sprint to September”, to enable every country to vaccinate at least 10% of its population by the end of September. 

“We’re now more than halfway to that target date, but we’re not on track.

“When I issued that challenge in May, high-income countries had administered around 50 doses for every 100 people. Since then, that number has doubled. High-income countries have now administered almost 100 doses for every 100 people.

“Meanwhile, low-income countries have only been able to administer 1.5 doses for every 100 people, due to lack of supply,” Ghebreyesus said.  

He said there is a need for an urgent reversal, from the majority of vaccines going to high-income countries, to the majority going to low-income countries.

Accordingly, WHO is calling for a moratorium on boosters until at least the end of September, to enable at least 10 percent of the population of every country to be vaccinated.

“To make that happen, we need everyone’s cooperation, especially the handful of countries and companies that control the global supply of vaccines.

“The G20 has a vital leadership role to play, as the countries that are the biggest producers, the biggest consumers and the biggest donors of COVID-19 vaccines.

“It’s no understatement to say that the course of the pandemic depends on the leadership of the G20 countries.

“One month from now, the G20 health ministers will meet, ahead of the G20 summit in October. I call on them to make concrete commitments to support WHO’s global vaccination targets,” he said. 

The WHO chief, however, called on vaccine producers to prioritise COVAX.

“And we call on everyone with influence – Olympic athletes, investors, business leaders, faith leaders, and every individual in their own family and community – to support our call for a moratorium on booster shots until at least the end of September,” he said. 

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