Sunday, June 20, 2021
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HomeWorldVaccine Inequity Triggers ‘Huge Disconnect’ Between Countries

Vaccine Inequity Triggers ‘Huge Disconnect’ Between Countries


Although COVID-19 cases and deaths continue to
decline globally for a second consecutive week, the UN
health agency chief said on Monday that “a huge
disconnect” is mounting between some highly vaccinated
countries, which see the pandemic as largely resolved, while
huge waves of infection continue to grip others where shots
are scarce. 

 

“The pandemic
is a long way from over, and it will not be over anywhere
until it’s over everywhere”, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus,
Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) told
journalists once more, at the regular press briefing in
Geneva.

Still under threat

Tedros pointed to
“dramatic increases” in cases, hospitalizations and
deaths, in places where the coronavirus had
previously been contained and added that new variants,
fragile health systems, relaxed public health measures – and
shortages of oxygen, dexamethasone and vaccines – were
compounding the problem.

“But there are
solutions”, he said, urging people to adhere to physical
distancing, continue to wear masks and avoid large
gatherings. “Even where cases have dropped, genetic
sequencing is critical so that variants can be tracked and
measures are not eased prematurely”.

Urgent
financial support needed

Although WHO has been
responding to the surge in India and other flashpoints,
immediate additional funding is required to sustain support
in all countries experiencing new waves of cases.

The
2021 response plan is already underfunded, and the vast
majority of it is “ring fenced” by donors for specific
countries or activities, which is constraining WHO’s
ability to provide “an adaptable and scalable response in
emerging hotspots”, Tedros said.

Urgent and flexible
funding would allow the UN health agency to scale up support
for countries and the ACT
Accelerator
.

Set ambitious goals
‘collectively’

Meanwhile, the UN Children’s
Fund (UNICEF) outlined
a 190 million dose shortfall in the UN-backed COVAX
vaccine initiative for equitable COVID
inoculations.

While COVAX has delivered 65 million
doses to 124 countries and economies to date, the WHO chief
called on manufacturers to publicly commit to sharing their
vaccines with COVAX by lifting contractual barriers
“within days not months”.

He also pressed
manufacturers to give the right of first refusal to COVAX on
any additional doses and encouraged them to make deals with
companies willing to use their facilities to produce COVID-19
vaccines.

“We need to collectively set ambitious
goals to at least vaccinate the world’s adult population
as quickly as possible”, Tedros underscored.

Road
safety priorities

Although pandemic lockdowns and
telecommuting has led to fewer car journeys and road
crashes, the WHO chief pointed to a converse problem caused
by drivers’ speeding. This has meant the number of deaths
had not decreased proportionately.

Kicking off UN
Road Safety Week
, Tedros asked for national and local
policy commitments “to deliver 30 kilometre per hour speed
limits in urban areas and generate local support for low
speed measures overall”.

Addressing the risk of road
traffic deaths is also fundamental to achieve theSustainable
Development Goals (SDGs)
, specifically those affecting
health security, sustainable cities and reducing
inequalities among and within countries.

And policies
that tackle the of impact road traffic, and create
environments for safe, sustainable and inclusive transport
options, also unlock action for protecting the climate and
gender equality.

A paradigm shift in how streets
are designed can make streets safe, accessible and equitable
for all road users – delivering multiple benefits while
accelerating action across interlinking SDGs, according to
WHO.

Key facts on road traffic
injuries

  • Approximately 1.35 million people die
    each year because of road crashes.
  • The 2030
    Agenda for Sustainable Development
    has set an ambitious
    target of halving the global number of deaths and injuries
    from road traffic crashes by 2020.
  • Road traffic
    crashes cost most countries three per cent of their gross
    domestic product.
  • More than half of all road traffic
    deaths are among pedestrians, cyclists and
    motorcyclists.
  • Some 93 per cent of global road
    fatalities occur in low- and middle-income
    countries.
  • Road traffic injuries are the leading
    cause of death for children and young adults aged 5-29
    years.

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