The head of the World Health Organization has warned that wealthy countries are too slow in sharing vaccines with low-income countries to prevent the spread of the “delta variant” of COVID, risking millions of lives.
According to The Guardian, WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said vaccine sharing was “just a trickle outstripping options” after it was revealed that the first-discovered Delta variant in India is now present in at least 98 countries.
The WHO Director-General’s warning came when Dame Sarah Gilbert, an Oxford professor who led the Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccine development team, called for caution about vaccination proposals for children in the UK. “We have to balance what we think about vaccinating children in high-income countries with vaccinating the rest of the world because we need to stop transmission of this virus around the world,” she told the Observer. “I am very worried about vaccines for the rest of the world because we need to stop the transmission of the virus and its further development. It can give us a new option that will be really difficult to deal with. ”
Dr. Ghebreyesus said world leaders must ensure that at least 10% of people in all countries are vaccinated by the end of September to protect vulnerable people and healthcare workers.
“Option Delta is dangerous and continues to evolve and change, which requires constant evaluation and careful adjustment of the public health response,” said the director general of WHO. – Delta has been found in at least 98 countries and is spreading rapidly in countries with low and high vaccination coverage. The world must share protective equipment, oxygen, tests, treatments and vaccines in an equitable manner. ” By July next year, 70% of people in every country should be vaccinated, he said: “This is the best way to slow the pandemic, save lives and spur a truly global economic recovery, and prevent further dangerous options from prevailing.”
This point of view was supported by Professor James Naismith, director of the Rosalind Franklin Institute in Oxford: “Delta is going to go through the EU in much the same way as here. Fortunately, they too are vaccinating at a very fast pace and, like the UK, probably just got out of the point of maximum danger, although the summer is going to be tough. But because so few people are vaccinated in developing countries, their point of maximum danger lies ahead. Once Delta is operational, it will overwhelm healthcare systems very quickly if vaccination progress does not improve. The vast majority of health care systems will experience a disproportionate rise in deaths as oxygen runs out, health workers fail, and other care is cut off. More thought needs to be given to whether vaccination of young children in rich countries is as important and ethically justifiable as vaccinating key workers and the most vulnerable populations in developing countries. ”
According to Professor James Naismith, 3 billion vaccines have been distributed so far, but low-income countries need new manufacturing centers: “I encourage companies such as BioNTech, Pfizer and Moderna to share their know-how so that we can accelerate the development of a new products. The sooner we start to create more vaccination centers and increase the global vaccination capacity, the sooner we can reduce the number of deaths. ”
Last week, the IMF, World Bank and World Trade Organization joined WHO in calling for “urgent action” to increase vaccine supplies. They also asked the G20 group of countries to step up efforts to meet vaccine goals.
Scientists have highlighted the urgency of vaccination around the world because existing vaccines are already less effective against the Delta variant than other coronavirus variants, and Delta is significantly more transmitted.
David Bauer, team leader at the Francis Crick Institute’s RNA Virus Replication Laboratory, says: “From a virological perspective, it’s very clear: The Delta variant will supersede all other variants that exist today. It took him about eight weeks to supplant the Alpha in the United Kingdom and is now well on its way to supplanting the Beta in South Africa, and you see similar exponential trends in the United States. We need to vaccinate everyone as quickly as possible and then identify the groups that need revaccination the most … We need everyone to get vaccinated now. We are not all protected until the whole world is protected. This may sound idealistic, but it is not: there is a heartless and selfish motive behind it all. “
US President Joe Biden warned that while COVID-19 is receding in America, the latest variant of the coronavirus is of particular concern to those who have not yet been vaccinated – while the president’s goals for 70% of US adults to receive at least one vaccination for the 4th of July, did not work out.
Over the past week, the number of new coronavirus cases in the United States has jumped 10% due to the spread of the highly contagious variant of Delta, especially where vaccination rates are low.
“I am concerned that people who have not been vaccinated have the potential to catch this variant and pass it on to other people who have not been vaccinated,” Biden said Friday. “I don’t care if there’s going to be a major outbreak … another epidemic across the country. But I am concerned that lives will be lost. “
The vast majority of Americans dying from COVID-19 are not vaccinated, according to public health officials. And the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Rochelle Walensky, says areas with low vaccination rates are becoming hotbeds of new infections even as the situation in the country as a whole improves.
Nearly 25% of new infections in the US were associated with the “hyper-transmitted” variant of Delta, first identified in India, up from 6% in June.
As of July 1, 66.8% of US adults have received at least one dose of the vaccine. In total, 54.6% of all Americans received one or more shots.
The Delta option is causing great concern in Iran as well. Islamic Republic President Hassan Rouhani has expressed concerns that the country will face a new wave of COVID-19 due to the Delta variant outbreak. “There are concerns that we are on track for a fifth wave across the country,” Rouhani said at a meeting of the Iranian anti-virus working group, warning the public to be wary of the Delta variant infiltrating Iran.
COVID-19 has claimed the lives of more than 84,000 people out of more than 3.2 million infections in Iran, according to official figures, which, according to authorities, do not include all cases.
The Iranian Ministry of Health has classified the capital Tehran and nine other cities in Tehran province as “red” – the highest category on the Iranian coronavirus risk scale. The southern and southeastern provinces of Fars, Hormozgan, Kerman and Sistan-Baluchistan are now also classified as “red”. In the “red zones” all shops must remain closed, except for those deemed necessary, including grocery stores and pharmacies.
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