National Post (Latest Edition)

Sharing COVID resources urged

- Emma Farge Stephanie nebehay

• The world can bring the global COVID-19 pandemic under control in the coming months provided it distribute­s the necessary resources fairly, the head of the World Health Organizati­on (WHO) told a news briefing on Monday.

Global climate change activist Greta Thunberg, joining the briefing as a virtual guest from Sweden, took a swipe at “vaccine nationalis­m” and said it was unethical that rich countries were prioritizi­ng their younger citizens for vaccinatio­n ahead of vulnerable groups in developing countries.

“We have the tools to bring this pandemic under control in a matter of months, if we apply them consistent­ly and equitably,” said the head of WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesu­s.

However, he also expressed concern over the “alarming rate” at which COVID-19 is spreading in those aged 25-59 worldwide, possibly due to much more contagious variants.

“It took nine months to reach one million deaths; four months to reach two million, and three months to reach three million.”

Thunberg said that whereas one in four people in high-income countries had now been vaccinated against COVID-19, only one in more than 500 people in poorer countries had received a shot.

“Vaccine nationalis­m is what is running the vaccine distributi­on,” she said.

“The only morally right thing to do is to prioritize the people who are most vulnerable, whether they live in a high income or a low income country.”

Thunberg also drew a direct link between the pandemic and the environmen­tal destructio­n that she said made it much easier for dangerous viruses to leap from animal population­s to humans.

“Science shows we will experience more frequent, devastatin­g pandemics unless we drasticall­y change our ways and the ways we treat nature ... We are creating ideal conditions for diseases to spill over from one animal to another and to us,” she said.

Thunberg urged young people everywhere to get vaccinated if given an opportunit­y, even though they are the age group least at risk from COVID-19, out of “solidarity with people in the (high) risk groups.”

A leading WHO epidemiolo­gist, Maria van Kerkhove, told the same briefing that the latest surge in COVID-19 infections worldwide included increases among age groups previously less-affected by the pandemic.

“We are seeing increased rates of transmissi­on across all age groups,” she said, adding that some 5.2 million cases were reported last week, the highest weekly increase since the start of the pandemic.

“We are seeing a slight age shift in some countries, driven by social mixing,” she added.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada