Coronavirus: Ending the pandemic is ‘a choice,’ says WHO chief
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Coronavirus: Ending the pandemic is ‘a choice,’ says WHO chief

WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, credit WHO

The Covid-19 pandemic will end “when the world chooses to end it” because “all the tools” are now available to fight the virus, the World Health Organisation (WHO) director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Sunday, renewing his calls for a more equitable distribution of vaccines.

“The pandemic will end when the world chooses to end it. It’s in our hands – we have all the tools we need,” the WHO chief told a conference in Berlin.

He said that so far “the world has not used these tools wisely,” adding that with nearly 50,000 deaths per week worldwide, “the pandemic is far from over.”

The WHO chief was speaking at the opening ceremony of the World Health Summit, an annual event that brings together professionals and politicians in Berlin.

The WHO has set a target of 40 percent of the population in each country to be vaccinated by the end of this year and 70 percent by mid-2022. Dr. Tedros regularly criticises wealthier countries for not sharing vaccines with developing ones.

“The goal is achievable, but only if the countries and companies that control supply translate their statements into action,” he said in Berlin.

“Countries that have already reached the 40 percent target, including all G20 countries, must give up their place in vaccine deliveries” and share more with the international Covax program and the African Union’s African Vaccine Fund (Avat), Dr Tedros argued.

Vaccine manufacturers, meanwhile, “must share know-how, technology and licenses, as well as the waiver of intellectual property rights.”

In a recorded video message, UN chief Antonio Guterres said that “the triumph of vaccines – developed and brought to market in record time – is being undone by the tragedy of unequal distribution. Nationalism and vaccine hoarding put us all at risk.”

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