In the Japanese capital of Tokyo, he said the world must unite with “determination, dedication and discipline” to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic.
“More than any other event (the Games) have the power to bring the world together; inspire; to show what is possible,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO), told the International Olympic Committee with the Olympic flame in his hand.
He warned that the world is now in the early stages of another wave of infections and deaths, urging all countries to undertake a “mass global push” to kill at least 10 percent of their populations by September. vaccinate.
Today, 75 percent of vaccines have been administered in just 10 countries, Tedros said, while in low-income countries, “only one percent of people have received at least one dose.”
Pandemic on two tracks
The WHO chief said the world’s failure to share vaccines, tests and treatments, including oxygen, is fueling “a two-track pandemic” between the haves opening up and the have-nots closing their doors.
“This is not just a moral outrage; it is also epidemiologically and economically self-defeating,” he said, warning that the longer inequality persists, the slower the recovery will be.
More transmissions will lead to more potentially dangerous mutations, even larger than the devastating Delta variant, he warned.
“And the more variants, the more likely one of them will evade vaccines and bring us all back to square one‘, the WHO official signaled, reiterating that ‘none of us are safe until we all are’.
‘sick and tired’
Tedros called the pandemic a test in which “the world is failing” and recalled that we are not in a race against each other, but against the virus.
“In the time it takes me to make these comments, more than 100 people will lose their lives to COVID-19,” he said. “And by the time the Olympic flame is extinguished on August 8, more than 100,000 people will die 100,000”.
COVID has already claimed more than four million lives, and the toll continues to mount as deaths this year have already more than doubled last year’s total, the WHO chief said.
“The people of the world are sick and tired,” he said, “sick of the virus… the lives and livelihoods it has cost… the suffering it has caused… the limitations and disruptions to their lives… the turmoil it has caused for economies and associations…[and] the dark clouds it has cast over our future.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has learned many painful but important lessons, including that when health is in danger, everything is in dangersaid the UN official.
“That’s why WHO’s top priority is universal health coverage,” he explained, sharing the vision of a world where all people can access health services when and where they need them, without financial hardship.
When asked when the pandemic will end, Tedros replied “when the world chooses to end it”.
“We have the tools to prevent transmission and save lives. Our common goal must be to vaccinate 70 percent of the population of each country by the middle of next year,” he concluded.
Follow the virus
Meanwhile, the WHO last week reported a 12 percent increase in new cases worldwide, compared to the previous week, a total of 3.4 million new cases.
Since the start of the pandemic 19 months ago, there have been more than 190 million confirmed infections and more than 4,109,000 deaths.