WHO chief says world 'can begin to dream' about end of pandemic

WHO chief says world 'can begin to dream' about end of pandemic
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World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Friday the world can start to “dream” about the end of the coronavirus pandemic as vaccine trials show promising early results.

Tedros, speaking during the United Nations General Assembly’s first high-level session on the pandemic, said the health crisis has produced “inspiring acts of compassion and self-sacrifice, breathtaking feats of science and innovation, and heartwarming demonstrations of solidarity but also disturbing signs of self-interest, blame-shifting and divisions.”

He went on to say the distribution of a vaccine will be an opportunity for the world to come together to defeat COVID-19.

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“With positive results in recent weeks from vaccine trials, the light at the end of the tunnel is growing steadily brighter. Although the path ahead remains treacherous, we can begin to dream [about] the end of the pandemic,” he said. 

“But let me be clear: We simply cannot accept a world in which the poor and marginalized are trampled by the rich and powerful in the stampede for vaccines. This is a global crisis, and the solutions must be shared equitably as global public goods, not as private commodities that widen inequalities and become yet another reason some people are left behind. We shouldn’t leave anyone behind,” he added.

The WHO chief specifically called for $4.3 billion to be invested to support the mass procurement and delivery of vaccines and said that $23.9 billion is needed for 2021. 

The remarks come amid an international surge in cases, with more than 66 million infections and 1.5 million fatalities worldwide since the start of the pandemic.

Tedros sounded the alarm over countries “where science is drowned out by conspiracy theories, where solidarity is undermined by division, where sacrifice is substituted with self interest” and said the pitfalls are steep if a vaccine is not equitably distributed. 

“We cannot and we must not go back to the same exploitative patterns of production and consumption, the same disregard for the planet that sustains all life, the same cycle of panic and meddling, and the same divisive politics that fueled this pandemic,” he said.