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The UN chief of health declared yesterday that positive results from coronavirus vaccine trials It means that the world “may begin to dream of the end of the pandemic,” but said that the rich and powerful nations should not trample the poor and marginalized “in the vaccine stampede.”
In a speech at the first high-level session of the UN General Assembly on the COVID-19 pandemicThe Director General of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, warned that, while the virus can be stopped, “the road ahead remains dangerous.”

The pandemic has shown humanity “at its best and worst,” he said, noting “inspiring acts of compassion and self-sacrifice, astonishing feats of science and innovation, and moving displays of solidarity, but also disturbing signs of self-interest,” guilt and divisions “.

The Director General of the World Health Organization speaks about COVID-19, at the WHO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.
The Director General of the World Health Organization speaks about COVID-19, at the WHO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. (AP / Salvatore Di Nolfi)

Referring to the current increase in infections and deaths, Tedros said without naming any country that “where science is drowned out by conspiracy theories, where solidarity is undermined by division, where sacrifice is replaced by self-interest, the virus thrives, the virus spreads. “

He warned in a virtual speech at the high-level meeting that a vaccine “will not address the vulnerabilities that lie at their root” – poverty, hunger, inequality and climate change, which he said must be addressed once the pandemic is over.

“We cannot and must not go back to the same patterns of exploitation of production and consumption, the same disregard for the planet that sustains all life, the same cycle of panic and meddling and the same divisive politics that fueled this pandemic,” he said. .

As for vaccines, Tedros said, “the light at the end of the tunnel is getting brighter,” but vaccines “should be shared equally as global public goods, not as private products that widen inequalities and become a reason. more that some people are left behind. “

He said WHO’s ACT-Accelerator program to rapidly develop and distribute vaccines fairly “runs the risk of becoming a noble gesture” without significant new funding.

Vaccine vials archive image (Getty)
Vaccine vials archive image (Getty) (Getty)

He said that $ 4.3 billion ($ 5.8 billion) is immediately needed to lay the groundwork for mass buying and delivery of vaccines and an additional $ 23.9 billion ($ 32.2 million) is required by 2021. That total, Tedros said, it’s less than half of one percent of the $ 11 trillion ($ 14.8 trillion) in stimulus packages announced so far by the Group of 20, the world’s richest countries.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres made a similar call for funding for ACT-Accelerator at Thursday’s opening of the two-day session of the General Assembly. UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said on Friday that Guterres is frustrated and would have liked to see “a much higher rate of investment from countries that can.”

Henrietta Fore, director of the UN children’s agency UNICEF, said: “When poor countries started trying to buy vaccines,” there were none available or the price was too high.

UNICEF normally distributes 2 billion doses of vaccines a year, he said, and once you can get COVID-19 vaccines, “we are going to double that next year, so we need all hands on deck.”

US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar said that three of the six candidate vaccines that the US government has supported have reported promising data and “I have every reason to believe that more are coming. good news about vaccines and other countermeasures. “

From left, Maria van Kerkhove, Head of the Emerging Diseases and Zoonoses Unit, the Director General of the World Health Organization, WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, and Professor Didier Houssin, Chairman of the Emergency Committee, give a lecture Press release after an Emergency Committee meeting on what scientists have identified as a new coronavirus, at the headquarters of the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva, Switzerland, on Wednesday, January 22, 2020.
From left, Maria van Kerkhove, Head of the Emerging Diseases and Zoonoses Unit, the Director General of the World Health Organization, WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, and Professor Didier Houssin, Chairman of the Emergency Committee, give a lecture Press release after an Emergency Committee meeting on what scientists have identified as a new coronavirus, at the headquarters of the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva, Switzerland, on Wednesday, January 22, 2020. (AP)

US President Donald Trump has formally notified the UN of his withdrawal from the WHO, which he has harshly criticized for its response to the pandemic and accused of giving in to Chinese influence.

Azar criticized the lack of “transparent exchange of information” on COVID-19 and the WHO investigation into the origin of the virus. But he said he wanted health ministers to know that they can count on the cooperation of the United States to defeat the virus “without conditions,” noting that the United States “is providing countries fighting the virus with more funds, equipment and support. than any other nation. ” . “

Despite years of warnings, the WHO’s Tedros said, many countries were unprepared for the pandemic and assumed their health systems would protect their people. Many countries that have fared better in the crisis have had experience responding to outbreaks of SARS, MERS, HINI and other infectious diseases, he said.

The WHO has been harshly criticized for not assuming a stronger and more vocal role in managing the pandemic.

Tedros told the meeting that “clearly, the global preparedness system needs attention.”

He said a WHO commission established in September is reviewing international health regulations. WHO is also working with several countries to develop a pilot program in which countries agree to conduct regular and transparent reviews of their health readiness, he said.

The pandemic also showed the need for a global system to share samples of viruses and other disease-causing pathogens to facilitate the development of “medical countermeasures as global public goods,” he said, welcoming Switzerland’s offer to use a laboratory for high security to manage a new biobank.

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Tedros also endorsed the proposal of the President of the European Union, Charles Michel, of an international treaty under which the WHO would monitor the risks of emerging infectious diseases in animals for transmission to humans, guarantee health risk alerts, improve access health care and would address funding needs. He said this would provide “the political basis” to strengthen the global health sector.

The world spends $ 7.5 trillion ($ 10.1 trillion) on health each year, nearly 10 percent of global GDP, Tedros said, but most of that money is spent in rich countries on treatment. disease rather than “promoting and protecting health.”

“We need a radical rethinking of the way we view and value health,” he said.

“If the world is to avoid another crisis of this scale,” said Tedros, “investments in basic public health functions, especially primary health care, are essential, and all paths must lead to universal health coverage with a solid foundation of primary health care. ” . “


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