UN chief calls for better global COVID-19 vaccination efforts | Voice of America
As the world passed four million coronavirus-related deaths, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned millions more remain at risk “if the virus is allowed to spread like wildfire” .
The head of the global body said in a written statement that most of the world is “still in the shadows” due to the inequitable distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine between the world’s richest and poorest nations. and the rapid global spread of the most contagious delta variant of COVID-19.
Guterres called for the creation of an emergency task force, made up of vaccine-producing countries, the World Health Organization and global financial institutions, to implement a global immunization plan that will double in less COVID-19 vaccine production and ensure equitable distribution through the COVAX Global Vaccine Sharing Initiative.
“Vaccine equity is the greatest immediate moral test of our time,” said Guterres, whom he also called a “practical necessity”.
“As long as everyone is not vaccinated, everyone is at risk,” he added.
The Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center is reporting a total of 4,002,909 deaths from COVID-19, out of a total of 185.1 million confirmed cases.
The World Health Organization urges countries to proceed with “extreme caution” as they ease or completely end lockdowns and other restrictions in the face of a steady rise in new infections from the delta variant.
Dr Mike Ryan, head of the agency’s health emergencies program, told reporters in Geneva on Wednesday that countries are making “a false assumption” that transmission rates will not increase due to high vaccination rates.
“The idea that everyone is protected and that it’s Kumbaya and everything is back to normal, I think right now, is a very dangerous assumption all over the world,” Ryan said, according to CNBC.
In a similar vein, an open letter signed by hundreds of scientists published in the Lancet medical journal denounced British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s plan to lift most of the country’s restrictions on coronaviruses on July 19, the date that the Prime Minister nicknamed “Freedom Day”.
The letter called the government’s plans to reopen “unethical” and “dangerous”
because it implies the acceptance of a high level of new infections. Britain now averages over 25,000 new infections over a seven-day period due to the delta variant, but hospitalizations number in the hundreds and the average number of deaths per day has remained in the double digits due the country’s high vaccination rate.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid has acknowledged that the rate of new infections could reach 100,000 per day after July 19, when warrants such as social distancing and mask-wearing will expire.
Meanwhile, the SEA Games Federation announced on Thursday that this year’s Southeast Asian Games have been postponed due to an increase in new infections in host country Vietnam. The regional games were scheduled to be held in the capital, Hanoi, and 11 other locations from November 21 to December 2.
The announcement coincides with a suspension of public passenger services in Hanoi and a two-week lockdown in Ho Chi Minh City that takes effect on Friday.
The Southeast Asian Games are the latest sporting event affected by the pandemic. The organizers of the Australian Grand Prix motor racing event announced on Tuesday that they were canceling the Formula 1 race for the second year in a row due to Australia’s strict travel and quarantine warrants, while the Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix, which was scheduled for October, has also been canceled for a second year.
This report includes information from the Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters.