WHO DG blasts money minting anti-viral drug firms for making treatment inaccessible to the poor
GENEVA, May 5 (The CONNECT) - Stating that the global COVID death declining data does not tell the full story, the World Health Organistation blasted anti-viral drug firms minting money.
Globally, reported cases and deaths from COVID-19 are continuing to decline, with reported weekly deaths at their lowest since March 2020. But these trends, while welcome, don’t tell the full story, said WHO Director General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
Addressing a global media virtual conference last night (IST), Dr Tedros said he is “troubled that highly effective antivirals are still not accessible to people in low- and middle-income countries”.
Low availability and high prices have led some countries to rule out buying these life-saving treatments and ACT Accelerator partners are engaged in price negotiations to lower prices and increase availability, he said.
Coupled with low investment in early diagnosis Dr Tedros said, it is simply not acceptable that in the worst pandemic in a century, innovative treatments that can save lives are not reaching those that need them.
“We’re playing with a fire that continues to burn us,” he said and regretted, “Meanwhile, manufacturers are posting record profits”.
WHO supports fair reward for innovation, but we cannot accept prices that make life-saving treatments available to the rich and out of reach for the poor. This is a moral failing.
Dr Tedros pointed out that, there has been an increase in reported cases in the Americas and Africa driven by Omicron sub-variants. The South African scientists who identified Omicron late last year have now reported two more Omicron sub-variants, BA.4 and BA.5, as the reason for a spike in cases in South Africa.
It’s too soon to know whether these new sub-variants can cause more severe disease than other Omicron sub-variants, but early data suggest vaccination remains protective against severe disease and death, he said and stressed that the best way to protect people remains vaccination, alongside tried and tested public health and social measures.
“This is another sign that the pandemic is not done with us,” he told the world.