GENEVA, Switzerland, 15 July 2021
World Health Organisation (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Thursday warned the world about the ‘early stages’ of COVID-19 third wave amid Delta surge.
“Unfortunately…we are now in the early stages of a third wave”, he said.
On Wednesday, the head of WHO said that Delta variant’s spread, along with increased social mobility and the inconsistent use of proven public health measures, is driving an increase in both case numbers and deaths.
Recalling the sustained decline in COVID-19 cases and deaths that was being driven, in recent months, by increasing vaccination rates in Europe and North America, he sounded alarms over the fresh reversal of that positive trend, reported UN News.
Meanwhile, said Tedros, the virus is continuing to evolve, resulting in more transmissible variants.
“The Delta variant is now in more than 111 countries and we expect it to soon be the dominant COVID-19 strain circulating worldwide if it isn’t already,” he said.
Last week marked the fourth consecutive week of rising cases of COVID-19 globally, with increases recorded in all but one of WHO’s six regions. Deaths are also rising again, after 10 weeks of steady decline.
Tedros also drew the Emergency Committee on COVID-19’s attention to the ongoing “shocking disparity” in the global distribution of vaccines, as well as unequal access to life-saving tools, reported UN News.
He reiterated his concern that inequity has created a two-track pandemic – namely, one track for countries with the greatest access to vaccines, who are lifting restrictions and reopening their societies, and a second track for those without vaccines access who are left “at the mercy of the virus.”
Many countries still have not received any vaccines, and most have not received enough.
Tedros reiterated WHO’s appeal for a massive push to vaccinate at least 10 per cent of the population of every country by September, at least 40 per cent by the end of 2021, and at least 70 per cent by mid-2022.
Emphasising that vaccines alone will not stop the pandemic, he called upon countries to persist with a “tailored and consistent approach”.
It means using the full array of available public health and social measures and taking a comprehensive risk management approach to mass gatherings.
“So many countries around the world have shown that this virus can be stopped and contained with these measures,” he stressed.
To provide support, WHO recently issued updated guidance to facilitate a risk-based approach for opening.
The Agency is also reviewing options to digitalise the International Certificate for Vaccination and Prophylaxis, to support a harmonised approach for recording vaccination status, reported UN News.