Pandemic is a test and world is failing: WHO chief ahead of Tokyo Olympics en

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With Covid-19 causing devastation across the globe, it has left many people wondering: When will this pandemic end? Responding to this, WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, « The pandemic is a test and the world is failing. »

Addressing the International Olympic Committee meeting in Tokyo, the World Health Organisation (WHO) chief said, « It’s a question I am often asked, and which the people of the world are asking: when will this pandemic end? Indeed, the Covid-19 pandemic has asked us many questions: About ourselves; and about our world. »

« Anyone who thinks the pandemic is over because it’s over in the area they live in, they are living in a fool’s paradise, » Ghebreyesus further said.

Highlighting the gravity of the Covid-19 situation across the world, Tedros said, « More than 4 million people have died and more continue to die. Already this year, the number of deaths is more than double the last year’s total. »

« In the time it takes me to make these remarks, more than 100 people will lose their lives to Covid-19. And by the time the Olympic flame is extinguished on August 8, more than 100,000 more people will perish, » Ghebreyesus said.

« Millions of survivors continue to suffer from long-term health consequences of Covid-19, which we are still learning about. The people of the world are sick and tired…And yet, 19 months into the pandemic, and seven months since the first vaccines were approved, we are now in the early stages of another wave of infections and deaths. This is tragic, » Ghebreyesus said on Wednesday.

« How can this be? Weren’t vaccines meant to douse the flames of the pandemic? Yes, and in countries with the most vaccines, they [vaccines] are helping to do that. But here’s the thing about an inferno: if you lose only one part of it, the rest will keep on burning. And the embers of one fire can easily spark another, even more ferocious blaze somewhere else, » he said.

The WHO chief went on to say that the threat of Covid-19 pandemic will continue to loom until it’s over everywhere. At the same time, he said vaccines were available to a « lucky few ».

« The threat is not over anywhere until it’s over everywhere. Anyone who thinks the pandemic is over because it’s over where they live, is living in a fool’s paradise. Vaccines are powerful and essential tools. But the world has not used them well, » Tedros said.

« Instead of being deployed widely to quell the pandemic on all fronts, they have been concentrated in the hands and arms of the lucky few; deployed to protect the world’s most privileged people, including those at lowest risk of severe disease, while the most vulnerable remain unprotected, » he said.

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Tredos noted that more than 3.5 billion vaccine doses had been administered globally, and more than one in four people received at least one vaccine dose.

Dishing out the vaccine numbers, he said, « 75 per cent of vaccines have been administered in just 10 countries. In low-income countries, only 1 per cent of people have received at least one dose, compared with more than half of people in high-income countries. »

« Some of the richest countries are now talking about third booster shots for their populations, while health-workers, older people and other vulnerable groups in the rest of the world continue to go without, » Tedros said.

The global failure to share vaccines, tests, and treatments, including oxygen, is fuelling a two-track pandemic: the haves are opening up, while the have-nots are locking down, Tedros said.

« This is not just a moral outrage, it’s also epidemiologically and economically self-defeating. The longer this discrepancy persists, the longer the pandemic will drag on, and so will the social and economic turmoil it brings, » Tedros said.

« The more transmission, the more variants will emerge with the potential to be even more dangerous than the Delta variant that is causing such devastation now…And the more variants, the higher the likelihood that one of them will evade vaccines and take us all back to square one. None of us is safe until all of us are safe, » Tedros said.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus’s statement comes ahead of the much-awaited Tokyo 2020 Olympics, which will begin from Friday.

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