By Cecilia Ologunagba
World Health Organisation (WHO) says the number of new cases of COVID-19 reported has now declined for seven weeks in a row globally, which is the longest sequence of weekly declines during the pandemic so far.
WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus disclosed this at a news conference on Monday in Geneva.
In his speech posted on WHO website, the director-general said while weekly cases were at their lowest since February, deaths were not falling as quickly.
“The number of deaths reported last week was similar to the previous week and the global decline masks a worrying increase in cases and deaths in many countries.
“The steep increase in Africa is especially concerning, because it is the region with the least access to vaccines, diagnostics and oxygen.
“A recent study in the Lancet showed Africa has the highest global mortality rate among critically ill COVID-19 patients, despite having fewer reported cases than most other regions.
“Available evidence suggests new variants have substantially increased transmission globally,’’ he said
According to him, that means the risks have increased for people who are not protected, which is most of the world’s population and
“Right now, the virus is moving faster than the global distribution of vaccines,” he said.
At the G7 Summit on Saturday, Ghebreyesus said he spoke about shared goal of vaccinating at least 70 per cent of the world’s population by the time the G7 meets again in Germany in 2022.
“To do that, we need 11 billion doses; the G7 and G20 can make this happen.
“I welcome the support expressed by the G7 for WHO, the ACT Accelerator and the idea of a treaty on pandemic preparedness and response.
“And I welcome the announcement that G7 countries will donate 870 million vaccine doses, primarily through COVAX.
“This is a big help, but we need more, and we need them faster,’’he said.
According to him, more than 10 thousand people are dying every day; during this press conference alone, more than 420 people will die.
The director-general said the emergence of more transmissible variants meant public health and social measures might need to be more stringent and applied for longer, in areas where vaccination rates remain low.
“To improve the evidence base on the effectiveness of public health and social measures, WHO is collecting data from around the world on which measures are used and the level at which they are applied.
“We have also established a new WHO working group, with the support of Norway, to study the impact of public health and social measures during COVID-19 and other health emergencies,’’ he said.
Also marking World Blood Donor Day, the UN official noted that throughout the pandemic, donors the world over have given blood “and the gift of life”, to others.
This year highlights the role of youth in supporting safe and sufficient blood supplies now and in the future with the message to “give blood and keep the world beating,” he said.