The World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Friday that he was confident the pandemic will end in 2022 “if we end inequity” and spread vaccine wealth, urging nations to better cooperate on battling the coronavirus.
In a New Year’s address, Tedros said the tools were available to end the pandemic as the world enters its third year of the pandemic. But he argued that “narrow nationalism” and “vaccine hoarding” was preventing the pandemic from coming to an end, and led to the emergence of the highly transmissible omicron variant.
All the countries must focus on vaccinating more and more of their populations, added the WHO chief. “We need all countries to work together to reach the global target of vaccinating 70 per cent of people in all countries by the middle of 2022,” said Tedros.
The emergence of Omicron cases has caused Covid-19 infections to spike again across the world. Although the variant was classified as only a variant of concern by the WHO when it was first detected, Omicron is now the dominant strain in several countries. Thus far, the total number of cases recorded globally since the start of the pandemic has reached more than 280 million, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
“While some countries are now rolling out blanket booster programs, only half of WHO’s member states have been able to reach the target of vaccinating 40 percent of their populations by the end of the year, because of distortions in global supply,” Tedros said.
Further, there is more access to vaccinations in wealthier countries such as the United States, who were able to buy vast quantities of the shots when they were first rolled out. The vaccination rate is higher in the U.S. and Europe, with 67 percent of the population vaccinated, according to a dashboard for the United Nations and WHO.