Geneva: Deaths, hospitalizations, and lockdowns caused by the coronavirus pandemic could be alleviated this year if widespread inequities in vaccinations and medications are addressed quickly, according to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) director of emergencies.
Dr Michael Ryan, speaking at a World Economic Forum panel discussion on vaccine inequity, stated that ‘we may never be able to end the virus’ because pandemic viruses ‘end up becoming part of the ecosystem.’ He added that such viruses ‘end up becoming part of the ecosystem.’
He believes that, if the necessary steps are taken, the public health emergency can be brought to an end this year, but he believes that more must be done.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has described the disparity in COVID-19 vaccination rates between rich and poor countries as a “catastrophic moral failure.” People in low- and middle-income countries are less likely than the general population to have received even a single dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
If vaccines and other tools are not distributed fairly, Ryan warned the virtual gathering of world and business leaders, the virus’s tragedy would continue. The virus has so far claimed the lives of more than 5.5 million people around the world, according to Ryan.
What is needed is for disease incidence to be kept at a low level while our populations are vaccinated to the greatest extent possible, so that no one dies, said Ryan. “The problem is that it is the end of the world. It’s the hospitalizations that are the problem. It is the disruption of our social, economic, and political systems, not the virus, that has resulted in the tragedy we are experiencing.”
Ryan also weighed in on the growing debate over whether COVID-19 should be classified as an endemic virus, a designation that some countries, such as Spain, have advocated for in order to better assist people living with the virus, or as a pandemic, a designation that many countries have adopted in order to combat the virus’ spread.
“Endangered diseases such as endemic malaria, endemic HIV, and endemic violence in our inner cities claim the lives of hundreds of thousands of people each year. The fact that something is endemic does not imply that it is beneficial. Endemic simply means that it will exist indefinitely “he explained.
— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) January 18, 2022
In addition, public health officials have stated that it is highly unlikely that COVID-19 will be eradicated and that the virus will continue to kill people, though at a much lower rate, even after it becomes endemic.
Former executive director of the anti-poverty organisation Oxfam International, Gabriela Bucher, stressed the “extreme urgency” of more equitable vaccine distribution as well as the need for large-scale production during her presentation on Tuesday. She claimed that resources to fight the pandemic were being ‘hoarded’ by a small number of corporations and shareholders.
A number of comments were made on Day 2 of an online alternative to the annual World Economic Forum meeting, which had been postponed due to pandemic health concerns.
Separately, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general of the World Health Organization, stated that the omicron variant “continues to sweep the world,” noting that there were 18 million new COVID-19 cases reported in the previous week.