June 23, 2021

‘Inequity is driving a two-track epidemic,’ says WHO Chief

The absence of exchange of data, information, personal protective equipment, vaccinations, and other life-saving instruments is a distinguishing feature of Covid-19, according to the World Health Organization’s director-general.

WHO Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus told the World Local Production Forum, which aims to improve access to medicines and health technology, that inequality is driving a two-track pandemic.

Covid-19 instances have been down for eight weeks in a row, while fatalities have been declining for seven weeks.

“This is excellent. “However, new infections and fatalities continue to be high throughout the world,” Tedros added.

Over 2.5 million illnesses and 64,000 fatalities were recorded last week.

The number of illnesses and fatalities in Africa rose by almost 40% in the last week, according to the WHO director. “While a few nations have high vaccination rates and are now seeing fewer hospitalizations, other African and Asian countries are now experiencing severe epidemics.”

Tedros later said in a webinar that the health organization and its COVAX partners are collaborating with a South African consortium to create the country’s first COVID mRNA vaccine technology transfer center.

Tedros said that the partnership includes South African firms including Biovac and Afrigen Biologics and Vaccines, as well as a network of universities and the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“This is a major advance in the international effort to build vaccine development and manufacturing capacity that will put Africa on a path to self-determination,” South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said at the webinar.

In a video message, French President Emmanuel Macron said: “I am proud for Biovac and our South African partners to have been selected by WHO, as France has been supporting them for years.”

Tedros had previously said that the epidemic had exposed global disparities at the World Local Production Forum, which aims to improve access to medicines and health technology.

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