WHO urge nations to work together or risk more lives

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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The World Health Organization (WHO) said that if nations do not function uniformly to suppress the spread of coronavirus, it is possible that the global death toll could double.

The current death toll is approaching 1 million globally which means that 2 million deaths may occur before an effective COVID-19 vaccine is made available.

According to data collected by Johns Hopkins University, after the coronavirus emerged from Wuhan, China, late last year, it has infected more than 32 million people worldwide and killed at least 983,900 people.

Over the course of the pandemic, COVID-19 fatality rates have decreased steadily because scientists and health experts have made progress in treating seriously ill patients through the better use of oxygen and dexamethasone, among other therapeutics, Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of the WHO’s health emergencies program said during a press conference at the Geneva headquarters of the WHO.

However, before a COVID-19 vaccine becomes widely available, 2 million or more coronavirus deaths may be reported if world leaders do not better adopt lifesaving measures and “evolve the nature and scale and intensity of our cooperation,” cautioned Dr. Ryan.

Mike Ryan
Dr Mike Ryan
Executive Director – Health Emergencies Program

“It’s certainly unimaginable, but it’s not impossible, because if we look at losing 1 million people in nine months and then we just look at the realities of getting vaccines out there in the next nine months, it’s a big task for everyone involved. The time for action is now. Not just test and trace, not just clinical care, not just social distancing, not just hygiene, not just masks, not just vaccines. Do it all. And unless we do it all, 2 million deaths are not only imaginable but unfortunately and sadly very likely.”

Maria Van Kerkhove, the technical lead of the WHO on the COVID-19 pandemic, said that a “growing trend in cases” is being reported by many countries in Europe. This increase is partly due to better testing, but COVID-19 hospitalizations and intensive care unit admissions have also increased “alarmingly,” she said.

Even earlier, the global health organization had expressed concern that more pressure is likely to burden the healthcare systems of countries as they move into the winter season which could lead to the outbreak of other infections.

Through the COVID-19 vaccine global access facility, or COVAX, the United Nations health organization is working to deliver COVID-19 vaccines to communities around the world. The purpose of the facility is to collaborate with vaccine suppliers to safeguard the most vulnerable communities, such as the elderly and health workers.

As of Friday, 159 countries had committed to joining COVAX, however, Dr. Bruce Aylward, a senior advisor to the director-general, said the final count could be “well over” 170 nations and economies.

Previously, the Trump administration has said it does not intend to join the initiative. Aylward added that WHO officials remain “in discussion” with China who has also not joined the initiative.

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