COVID-19 pandemic far from over, large outbreaks in Asia: UN Chief

UN: With new coronavirus variants emerging every four months on average, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has cautioned that the COVID-19 pandemic is far from over as large outbreaks are spreading in Asia.

Guterres also called for Governments and pharma companies to work together to deliver vaccines to every person, everywhere.

In a video message ‘One World Protected – Break COVID Now’ to the GAVI COVAX Advance Market Commitment Summit 2022, Guterres said Friday that the gathering is a critical reminder that the “COVID-19 pandemic is far from over.”

“We’re seeing 1.5 million new cases each day. Large outbreaks are spreading in Asia. A new wave is sweeping across Europe,” he said, adding that some countries are reporting their highest death rates since the start of the pandemic.

He said the Omicron variant of the coronavirus is a “startling reminder” of how quickly COVID-19 can mutate and spread — especially in the absence of high vaccination coverage. Guterres said the next variant is not a question of “if” but of “when.”

“We are far from our target of every country reaching 70 per cent vaccination coverage by the middle of this year. And with new variants emerging every four months on average, time is of the essence,” he said.

The number of new weekly deaths also decreased sharply (-43 per cent) as compared to the previous week, when an artificial spike in deaths was observed.

As of April 3, over 489 million cases and over 6 million deaths have been reported globally.

At the country level, the highest number of new weekly cases were reported from South Korea (2,058,375 new cases; a decline of 16 per cent), Germany (1,371,270 new cases; a 13 per cent decrease), France (959,084 new cases; a 13 per cent increase), Vietnam (796,725 new cases; a 29 per cent decline), and Italy (486,695 new cases; a 3 per cent fall).

The highest number of new weekly deaths were reported in the United States of America (4,435 new deaths; a 10 per cent decline), Russia (2,357 new deaths; an 18 per cent decline), South Korea (2,336 new deaths; a 5 per cent decline), Germany (1,592 new deaths; a 5 per cent rise) and Brazil (1,436 new deaths; a 19 per cent fall).

Noting that the supply of COVID-19 vaccines is not the issue as manufacturers are producing 1.5 billion doses per month, Guterres said progress in achieving vaccine equity is possible but the window is closing fast. – INDIAN EXPRESS

by Daily News Sri Lanka

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