World reaches 1m COVID-19 deaths “tragic milestone” in 2022– WHO

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus

The World Health Organisation (WHO) says the world has recorded one million COVID-19 deaths in 2022, a ”tragic milestone” that must lead to more people being vaccinated against the disease.

Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus said this on Thursday during an online media briefing.

“We cannot say we are learning to live with COVID-19 when one million people have died with COVID-19 this year alone.

“When we are two-and-a-half years into the pandemic and have all the tools necessary to prevent these deaths,” Ghebreyesus said.

He urged all governments to step up action to vaccinate all health workers, older persons, and others at highest risk, as part of efforts toward inoculating 70 per cent of the global population.

The WHO boss said he was pleased to see that some countries with the lowest vaccination rates were now gaining ground especially Africa.

“In January, WHO and partners launched the COVID-19 Vaccine Delivery Partnership, focused mainly on the 34 countries that were at or below 10 per cent coverage. All but six are on the continent.

“Today, only 10 countries still have less than 10 per cent coverage, most of which are facing humanitarian emergencies,” he said, adding that vaccinations were still lagging.

He said that though there was a welcoming progress on coverage of high-priority groups, more must be done as one-third of the world’s population remained unvaccinated.

Ghebreyesus said that such included two-thirds of health workers, and three-quarters of older persons in low-income countries.

“All countries at all income levels must do more to vaccinate those most at risk, to ensure access to life-saving therapeutics, to continue testing and sequencing.

“Also, to set tailored, proportionate policies to limit transmission and save lives. This is the best way to drive a truly sustainable recovery,” he said.

According to him, intense Monkeypox transmission continues in the Americas region, although the number of cases globally fell by more than 20 per cent last week.

He said that most cases in the early stage of the outbreak were in Europe, with a smaller proportion in the Americas, adding that the situation had now reversed.

Ghebreyesus said that currently, less than 40 per cent of reported cases were in Europe and 60 per cent in the Americas.

He said that there were signs that the outbreak was slowing in Europe, where a combination of effective public health measures, behaviour change, and vaccination, were helping to prevent transmission.

“However, in Latin America in particular, insufficient awareness or public health measures are combining with a lack of access to vaccines to fan the flames of the outbreak,” he said.

Ghebreyesus thanked vaccine manufacturer, Bavarian Nordic, which on Wednesday signed an agreement with WHO’s Regional Office for the Americas to support access to its Monkeypox vaccine in Latin America and the Caribbean.

He expressed hope that the development would help to bring the outbreak under control in the region. (NAN)

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