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Updated April 17th, 2021 at 20:59 IST

WHO backs 'vaccine equity' as global coronavirus death toll passes three million mark

The global death toll from the deadly COVID-19 pandemic has passed the million mark, reports John Hopkins University coronavirus database.

Akanksha Arora
COVID-19
Pixabay | Image:self
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The global death toll from the deadly COVID-19 pandemic has passed the three million mark, reports John Hopkins University coronavirus database. The coronavirus has infected over 140,645,486 people worldwide as of April 17. The United States has reported the highest number of cases in the world with 32,308,557 positive cases and 579,951 virus-related deaths. As per the Johns Hopkins University, the number of lives lost is about equal to the population of Kyiv, Ukraine; Caracas, Venezuela; or metropolitan Lisbon, Portugal. Also, it is bigger than Chicago and equivalent to Philadelphia and Dallas combined.

Associated Press reports that the true number is believed to be significantly higher. This is because of the many cases which have been overlooked in the early stages of the outbreak. Maria Van Kerkhove, one of the World Health Organization’s leaders said, “This is not the situation we want to be in 16 months into a pandemic, where we have proven control measures”.

“Vaccine equity is the challenge of our time. And we are failing", said WHO chief in an opening remarks of a summit, held in virtual format on the theme, "A Vaccine for All". 

In the month of January, when the world death toll crossed the 2 million mark, immunization drives had just started in Europe and the United States. As of now, the drives are underway in more than 190 countries. As per a WHO statistic, more than 832 million vaccine doses that have been administered globally, over 82 per cent have gone to high or upper middle-income countries. The low-income countries have received just 0.2 per cent. 

Earlier this week, the COVAX facility has delivered vaccines to over 100 countries since its first delivery to Ghana. COVAX has delivered more than 38 million doses of vaccines from AstraZeneca, Pfizer-BioNTech and Serum Institute of India (SII) to 61 countries, as per the press release of the World Health Organization. COVAX aims to supply vaccines to all participating countries in the first half of 2021. 

According to a press release of WHO, more than a hundred countries have received COVID-19 vaccines from COVAX. The COVAX facility has sent these vaccines within the first 42 days of delivering the COVAX vaccines to Ghana on 24 February 2021.  Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General said that COVAX has given the world the best way to ensure the "fastest, most equitable rollout of safe and effective vaccines. He said that nations should work together to prioritise vaccine supply through COVAX.

“The inequitable distribution of vaccines is not just a moral outrage, it is also economically and epidemiologically self-defeating. The more transmission, the more variants. And the more variants that emerge, the more likely it is that they could evade vaccines”, said Tedros.

Situation worldwide 

In Brazil, the death toll has risen to 3,000 a day as the crisis has been likened to a “raging inferno” by one WHO official. The slow vaccine rollout has deeply affected the South American nation. The situation is similar in India, where cases have hit a new record high since the month of February. As per the reports by AP, only  178 ventilators were free Wednesday afternoon in New Delhi, which has a population of 29 million. 

Recently, the WHO  said that the number of new COVID-19 cases per week worldwide has nearly doubled over the past two months. This has contributed to the highest infection rate seen so far during the pandemic. During a media briefing, WHO Chief, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that some countries that had previously avoided widespread transmission are now seeing steep increases in infections. 

The chief also spoke about vaccine equity and said that it is a major challenge. “Vaccine equity is the challenge of our time. And we are failing”, said Tedros. This comes after Tedros warned that the COVID-19 pandemic was “a long way from over”. However, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyasus suggested that proven public measures like social distancing and hand hygiene could bring the infection under control. In addendum, he also said that “confusion” and “complacency” in the society are only deriving transmission of the virus and costing lives.  

(Image Credits: Pixabay)

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Published April 17th, 2021 at 20:59 IST

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