Tuesday, December 7

To beat Covid, there is a simple lesson: no one is safe until everyone is safe | WHO Special Envoys


The world is witnessing the emergence of more infectious variants of the Sars-CoV-2 virus, but a stuttering race to ensure equitable access to vaccines has seen a handful of countries move forward, immunizing their own populations, leaving many of the vulnerable people of the world. in its wake.

Communities are struggling with impatience and fatigue, which is understandable. However, easing basic public health measures, such as wearing masks and social distancing, runs the risk of fueling transmission. In combination with more infectious variants and the “me first” attitude of some countries, people who are not vaccinated and those who have received only one dose are at increased risk.

The world is at a dangerous point and we, the special envoys of the Director General of the World Health Organization, call for a renewed commitment to a comprehensive approach to defeating this pandemic. We need to accelerate along two tracks: one in which governments and vaccine manufacturers support all WHO member states in their efforts to build vaccine manufacturing capacity and vaccinate their most vulnerable populations, and another in which individuals and communities maintain a steadfast focus on the continuity of essential public health. Measures to break transmission chains.

The first path requires the immediate implementation of repeated calls by the WHO and its Covax partners for the best use of vaccines. Almost 3 billion doses of vaccines have been distributed worldwide, but only 90 million of them have passed through Covax. There are at least 60 countries that depend on Covax for vaccines and those countries have vaccination rates that average less than 3%. The world must implement a strategy at the global, regional and national levels whereby the most vulnerable people are vaccinated first, rather than leaving healthcare workers, the elderly and people with underlying conditions at risk of serious disease.

It also includes supporting the WHO call to vaccinate at least 10% of the population of all countries in September, and a “push to December” to vaccinate 40% by the end of 2021. Reaching the September target means that 250 million more people in low- and middle-income countries should be vaccinated in just four months , giving priority to all healthcare workers and the highest risk groups to save lives.

Such goals align with the bold request from the WHO, the International Monetary Fund, the World Trade Organization and the World Bank to increase financing of 50,000 million dollars to vaccinate 40% of the world’s population by the end of the year and 60% by mid-2022. Such an investment pales in comparison to the trillions of dollars of economic losses and costs related to the pandemic.

WHO continues to work to make safe and effective vaccines and other tools available to the world, from issuing Emergency Use Lists (EULs) for 11 vaccines so far, to launching access to the Covid-19 Tool Accelerator. This will stimulate development and access to the solutions needed to diagnose, treat and vaccinate vulnerable people in all countries, and will allow developing countries to build their own vaccine manufacturing capacity. Manufacturing and diagnostic capabilities, virus sequencing capabilities, increased case surveillance, and other measures are essential components to control this pandemic.

Countries with the largest vaccine stocks should not stockpile them and push to cover their entire population while other countries dispense with them. It doesn’t even suit them, as the intense circulation of the virus in countries without vaccines increases the possibility of more transmissible and dangerous variants, threatening to make current vaccines less effective.

At the same time, the world must not lose sight of the second path that requires everyone to refresh their commitment to protect themselves and others by recognizing the importance of wearing masks, physical distancing, ventilation, and other actions that have been shown to reduce the spread of the virus. Engaging with communities, building trust and empowering people to feel part of the response are the keys to inspiring them to continue, more than a year after the pandemic.

The urgent call is to save lives. The world has a moral imperative to do so. Global solidarity is more necessary than ever. By actively calling for a two-way approach: ensuring that the most vulnerable people are vaccinated and adhering to robust public health measures, and by calling out those who might be doing more, the whole world can benefit and save lives. No one is safe until everyone is safe.


www.theguardian.com

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