No white flag to the virus, 85% of Africa yet to get single jab

50,000 deaths a week is far too many - WHO

No white flag to the virus, 85% of Africa yet to get single jab

Omicron rapidly overtaking Delta cases

WHO DG Dr Tedros says the virus has been claiming almost 50 thousand lives a week 50,000 thousand deaths is too many.

GENEVA, Jan 13 (The CONNECT) - Indirectly reminding the nations that the Omicron variant has originated in Botswana, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said in Africa, more than 85% of people are yet to receive a single dose of vaccine. In all 90 countries have still not reached the 40% target, and 36 of those countries have vaccinated less than 10% of their populations.

“We must not allow this virus a free ride or wave the white flag, especially when so many people around the world remain unvaccinated,” WHO Director General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said virtually addressing the global media last night (IST).

The virus has been claiming almost 50 thousand lives a week, he said and pointed out: “50,000 thousand deaths is too many”.” Learning to live with this virus does not mean we can, or should, accept this number of deaths, he said.

It is an underestimate that more than 15 million new cases of COVID-19 were reported to WHO from around the world last week which is by far the most cases reported in a single week, Dr Tedros said in no uncertain terms.

This huge spike in infections, he said, is being driven by the Omicron variant, which is rapidly replacing Delta in almost all countries. The number of weekly reported deaths, however, has remained stable since October last year, at an average of 48 thousand deaths a week. While the number of patients being hospitalized is increasing in most countries, it is not at the level seen in previous waves. 

This is possibly due to the reduced severity of Omicron, as well as widespread immunity from vaccination or previous infection. But let’s be clear: while Omicron causes less severe disease than Delta, it remains a dangerous virus, particularly for those who are unvaccinated.

Dr Tedros said The WHO and its partners are actively supporting these countries to overcome the bottlenecks they face, in leadership and coordination, lack of supply visibility, short shelf-life of donated vaccines, limited cold chain capacity, vaccine confidence, health worker shortages, and competing priorities.

The UN health body is also paying careful attention to the impact of Omicron on vaccines, he said and. In September last year, WHO established the Technical Advisory Group on COVID-19 Vaccine Composition, or TAG-CO-VAC, a group of experts to review the implications of variants of concern on the composition of vaccines.

On Tuesday, TAG-CO-VAC emphasized the urgent need for broader access to the vaccines we have, and that further vaccines are needed that have a greater impact on preventing infection and transmission. Until such vaccines are developed, the composition of current COVID-19 vaccines may need to be updated, to ensure they continue to provide WHO-recommended levels of protection against infection and disease, Dr Tedros said.

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