WHO official says world has ‘chance to end’ worst of COVID-19 this year

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If medicine and vaccine inequities are quickly dealt with, the world has a “chance to end” the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic this year, a top World Health Organization (WHO) official said on Tuesday.

Michael Ryan, the executive director for WHO’s Health Emergencies Programme, said during a World Economic Forum-hosted panel that the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic, including lockdown measures and COVID-19-caused deaths, would continue if resources like the vaccine were not equitably distributed by businesses and governments, The Associated Press reported.

However, he noted that “we have a chance to end the public health emergency this year if we do the things that we’ve been talking about.”

Ryan blamed “disruption of our social, economic, political systems” for causing the pandemic hardships faced by many citizens around the world, “not the virus,” according to the news outlet.

“What we need to do is get to low levels of disease incidence with maximum vaccination of our populations, so nobody has to die,” the WHO official said.

WHO officials have slammed wealthier nations for not doing a better job prioritizing providing initial vaccine doses to poorer countries over giving out booster shots to their own citizens. 

The president of Namibia during last year’s U.N. General Assembly called the situation “vaccine apartheid.”

“While committing to save lives now, Namibia wishes to state that saving lives can only be successful once we eliminate vaccine apartheid,” said Hage Geingob, whose country was once under apartheid rule, according to the Namibian government-run New Era newspaper

The United States, however, has said in response to such criticisms that it is a leader in donating doses to lower-income countries and can both make those donations and give its own population booster shots.

Tags Booster shots COVID-19 COVID-19 boosters COVID-19 vaccines WHO World Health Organization
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