The Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, attends a press conference organized by the Geneva Association of United Nations Correspondents (ACANU) amid the COVID-19 epidemic, caused by the novel coronavirus, at WHO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, July 3, 2020.
Fabrice Coffrini | Swimming pool | Reuters
Covid-19 deaths fell to their lowest level in nearly a year last week with nearly 50,000 deaths, World Health Organization director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Wednesday.
Covid deaths are on the decline in all regions except Europe, but vaccine inequalities continue to plague much of the developing world. Tedros said 56 countries had yet to meet the WHO target of vaccinating 10% of their population against Covid by the end of September, adding that reported deaths were highest in countries with the fewest access to Covid vaccines.
“It’s still an unacceptably high level, almost 50,000 deaths per week,” Tedros said during a Covid-19 briefing. “And the actual number is certainly higher.”
Three countries – Burundi, Eritrea and North Korea – have yet to start distributing vaccines, Tedros said, noting that the majority of the 56 countries with vaccination rates below 10% are in Africa. . Half of the 52 African countries with Covid vaccines have fully vaccinated 2% or less of their population, according to a September 30 WHO report.
Tedros said last Thursday that high and upper middle-income countries have used 75% of all Covid vaccines developed during the pandemic, while less than 5% of Africa’s population has been fully vaccinated. He called on rich countries on Wednesday to stop distributing Covid booster vaccines to help meet the WHO target of immunizing 40% of each country by the end of the year.
“Reaching 40% requires a whole-of-government and whole-of-society approach, which depends on political leadership and civil society,” said Tedros.
WHO officials have denounced the global rollout of Covid boosters for weeks on end in hopes of reallocating surplus vaccines to low-income countries and blocking the emergence of future epidemics and variants. United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres joined the WHO Covid briefing last week to condemn global vaccine inequalities as “immoral” and “stupid,” adding that low rates of vaccination in the south of the world could fuel the mutation of vaccine-resistant Covid variants.
Research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that unvaccinated people are 11 times more likely to die from Covid and 10 times more likely to require hospitalization for their symptoms. Unvaccinated people are also about 4.5 times more likely to catch Covid, the CDC found.