By Cecilia Ologunagba
World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus said every region has countries facing a sharp rise in COVID-19 cases and deaths, with cases in Africa rising rapidly .
Ghebreyesus, who spoke at a COVID-19 press conference at the WHO headquarters in Geneva on Friday, expressed concern that COVID-19 cases in Africa had increased by 52 % over the past week.
“And we expect things to only get worse; less than one percent of the African population has been vaccinated.
“The vaccines given next year will be far too late for those who die today, or who are infected today or at risk today.”
The WHO chief said millions of additional COVID vaccines must be given now to save lives and help the UN health agency meet the key global goal.
“More vaccines must be donated to help the global health body meet the key global goal of immunizing 70% of all national populations by mid-2022.
“If the richest countries and pharmaceutical companies wait to donate and produce more pictures until next year, it will be too late for those who are dying today.
Welcoming Guinea’s expected announcement on Saturday that its latest Ebola virus disease outbreak has been halted after just four months, he said it shows what can be done on a much larger scale with the coronavirus.
“Tomorrow, we expect the Guinean government to announce the end of the Ebola epidemic.
“I want to congratulate Guinea and the health workers who have helped contain the epidemic at very high personal risk.
“Thank you also to our partners who provided financial and technical support.
“As you know, Guinea was one of three countries affected by the devastating Ebola epidemic in West Africa in 2014 and 2015,” said Ghebreyesus.
According to him, nearly 11,000 people have been vaccinated against Ebola.
“And yet, even after 18 months, the ineffective use of public health and social measures, increased social mix and vaccine inequity continue to give COVID-19 an opportunity to mutate, spread and kill.
“The global failure to equitably share vaccines is fueling a two-track pandemic that is now wreaking havoc among the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people. “
WHO’s global goals are to immunize at least 10% of each country’s population by September, at least 40% by the end of 2021, and 70% by mid-2022.
Ghebreyesus added: “These are the critical milestones that we must reach together to end the pandemic; we very much appreciate the donations of vaccines announced by the g7 and others.
“We thank the countries, including the United States, who have committed to dose sharing in June and July.
“We urge others to follow suit; we need vaccines to give now to save lives. “(NAA)