World in early stages of third wave, cautions WHO chief

Our Bureau Mumbai | Updated on July 14, 2021

‘Deaths are increasing again after 10 weeks of decline’

The world is now in the early stages of a third wave, said the World Health Organisation chief Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, pointing out that deaths are increasing again after 10 weeks of decline. .

Last week marked the fourth consecutive week of increasing cases of Covid-19 globally, with the surge recorded in all but one of WHO’s six regions, he said, adding that the virus continues to evolve, resulting in more transmissible variants.

“The Delta variant is now in more than 111 countries, and we expect it to soon be the dominant Covid-19 strain circulating worldwide, if it isn’t already,” he said.

“The Delta variant is one of the main drivers of the current increase in transmission, fuelled by increased social mixing and mobility, and inconsistent use of proven public health and social measures,” he added.

Distribution of vaccines

At the same time, there is a “shocking disparity” in the global distribution of vaccines, and unequal access to life-saving tools, he said. “This inequity has created a two-track pandemic: countries with the greatest access to vaccines are lifting restrictions and reopening their societies, although great risks remain for unvaccinated groups.”

Meanwhile, lack of access to vaccines leaves most of the world’s population susceptible to infection and at the mercy of the virus, he added. “I have called for a massive push to vaccinate at least 10 per cent of the population of every country by September, at least 40 per cent by the end of this year, and at least 70 per cent by the middle of next year,” he said, adding that to reach these targets, 11 billion doses were needed.

The WHO is also reviewing options to digitalise the International Certificate for Vaccination and Prophylaxis to support a harmonised approach for recording vaccination status, as well as other information about international travellers, he said.

Published on July 14, 2021

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