COVID-19 variants winning race against vaccines, says WHO chief as global deaths cross 4 mn-mark

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Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that far too many countries were seeing sharp spikes in cases and hospitalisation, due to fast-moving virus variants and a ‘shocking inequity’ in global access to vaccines

The World Health Organisation (WHO) chief, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that the four millionth recorded death worldwide from COVID-19 was a ‘tragic milestone’ which ‘likely underestimates the overall toll’ of the deadly virus. AP

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Geneva: The world passed the “tragic milestone” of four million recorded COVID-19 deaths, said World Health Organisation (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, adding that the world is at a “perilous point” in this pandemic.

Speaking at the media briefing on COVID-19 on Wednesday, Tedros said, “The world is at a perilous point in this pandemic. We have just passed the tragic milestone of 4 million recorded COVID-19 deaths, which likely underestimates the overall toll.”

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The WHO chief said some countries with high vaccination coverage were now “relaxing as though the pandemic is already over”, dropping public health social measures and planning to roll out booster shots.

But he said that far too many countries in every region of the world were seeing sharp spikes in cases and hospitalisation, due to fast-moving virus variants and a “shocking inequity” in global access to vaccines.

“This is leading to an acute shortage of oxygen, treatments and driving a wave of death in parts of Africa, Asia, and Latin America,” Tedros said.

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“Vaccine nationalism, where a handful of nations have taken the lion’s share, is morally indefensible and an ineffective public health strategy against a respiratory virus that is mutating quickly and becoming increasingly effective at moving from human to human,” he said.

“At this stage in the pandemic, the fact that millions of health and care workers have still not been vaccinated is abhorrent,” he added.

Tedros said variants are currently winning the race against vaccines because of inequitable vaccine production and distribution, which also threatens the global economic recovery.

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