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UN presses for scale-up of coronavirus medicines, vaccines worldwide

UN presses for scale-up of coronavirus medicines, vaccines worldwide
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The United Nations general assembly on Tuesday pressed for a scaling-up of coronavirus medicines, vaccines and equipment worldwide as the virus continues to ravage countries. 

The general assembly requested U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres to work with the World Health Organization and provide recommendations to make sure all countries have equal and timely access to testing and medical supplies, The Associated Press reported

Officials in African countries, where the health care system has been traditionally underfunded, have called for the continent’s need for more supplies. 

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The U.N. Economic Commission for Africa report found that Africa will need at least $44 billion for testing, personal protective equipment and treatment for the virus. The worst-case scenario estimates African countries needing $446 billion.

Less than 5,000 intensive care unit beds are available in 43 African countries, amounting to five beds per 1 million people, according to the AP. In Europe, where officials have struggled to avoid overwhelming the hospitals with coronavirus cases, there are 4,000 beds per 1 million people.

The calls for a more equitable response come as some countries are taking steps to reopen as the pandemic has rocked the economy. Health experts warn that reopening too quickly could lead to a resurgence. 

Worldwide, more than 2.5 million people were confirmed to have contracted the virus, leading to at least 171,810 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.