UN chief warns pandemic not yet under control

After two years, the COVID-19 pandemic is not yet over and could still be prolonged due to a “scandalously unequal” distribution of vaccines, the UN secretary-general warned on Wednesday.

“The most tragic toll of the pandemic has been on the health and lives of millions of people, with more than 446 million cases worldwide, more than six million confirmed deaths and countless others struggling with deterioration. mental health,” UN chief Antonio Guterres said in a statement marking the second anniversary of the global crisis.

“Thanks to unprecedented public health measures and the extraordinarily rapid development and deployment of vaccines, many parts of the world have the pandemic under control,” he said.

“But it would be a big mistake to think that the pandemic is over.”

Guterres noted that “vaccine distribution remains shockingly uneven” and that while 1.5 billion doses of vaccine are produced every month, “nearly three billion people are still waiting for their first vaccine.”

“This failure is the direct result of political and budgetary decisions that prioritize the health of people in rich countries over the health of people in poor countries,” said António Guterres.

He added that the two-tier recovery is “a recipe for more variants, more lockdowns and more grief and sacrifice in every country”.

The statement concluded by calling on the whole world to “recommit ourselves to ending this pandemic…and closing this sad chapter in human history, once and for all.”

More than six million people have died worldwide from COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic, according to a tally from official sources compiled by AFP on Tuesday.

A total of 6,003,081 people have succumbed to the virus, AFP counted at 11:00 GMT.

The milestone comes as the number of infections and deaths continues to fall in most parts of the world, except in Asia, where Hong Kong is suffering its worst outbreak, and in Oceania, where New Zealand has recorded an increase in case.

The average number of daily deaths worldwide over the past seven days fell to 7,170, down 18% in a week, continuing a trend seen since the peak of the Omicron wave in early February despite the easing of restrictions by many countries.

The United States has recorded 960,311 coronavirus deaths, followed by Brazil at 652,341 and India at 515,210.

As much of the world learns to live with the disease, China remains committed to eradicating it and has urged Hong Kong to pursue a zero-tolerance approach as well.

The countries reporting the highest death rates as a proportion of their population were Hong Kong with 20.58 per 100,000 population, Latvia (6.42), Georgia (5.89), Denmark (5.13) and Hungary (5.04).

The World Health Organization estimates that the real figure could be two to three times higher.

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