No room for complacency, despite drop in Covid cases: WHO
Publish- February 16, 2021, 12:20 PM
UNB NEWS - UNB NEWS
Confirming a drop in the number of Covid-19 cases globally for the fifth consecutive week, the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) has cautioned against complacency saying "the fire is not out" yet.
"The fire is not out, but we have reduced its size. If we stop fighting it on any front, it will come roaring back," said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO, stressing “simple public health measures work, even in the presence of variants”.
“Last week saw the lowest number of reported weekly cases since October," the head of the UN health agency said at a press briefing in Geneva on Monday.
Noting a nearly 50 percent drop in Covid cases this year, he stressed that “how we respond to this trend” is what matters now.
‘All the pieces in place’
WHO gave the green light for two versions of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to be rolled out globally under an emergency listing, which assesses and assures the quality, safety and efficacy of Covid-19 vaccines and is also a distribution prerequisite under the UN-led vaccine initiative COVAX.
One of the vaccines was produced by SKBio in Korea, the other by the Serum Institute of India.
Following the Pfizer-BioNTech inoculations, these are the second and third vaccines to receive emergency use listing.
“We now have all the pieces in place for the rapid distribution of vaccines," said Tedros.
However, he reiterated the need to scale up production along with his call for vaccine developers to send their dossiers to WHO for review when they submit them to regulators in high-income countries.
Ensuring the rapid and equitable rollout of vaccines globally is essential for saving lives, stabilising health systems, protecting livelihoods and steadying economies, according to the WHO chief.
“Fully funding COVAX represents the greatest possible stimulus and is a rounding error compared with the trillions of dollars that have been mobilised in G7 countries to support their economies," he said.
The WHO chief looked forward to an upcoming meeting of the G7 industrialised countries on Friday to discuss vaccine equity.
And he underscored the need to continue building the demand for vaccines by ensuring people have the right information, recalling that a year ago, “we were not only fighting a pandemic, we were fighting an infodemic”.
The solution is to fight misinformation, delete false or misleading statements, listen to concerns and questions and provide answers with good information, Tedros upheld.
Drawing attention to last week’s spate of Ebola cases in Congo, the WHO chief emphasised that having the right information is “essential in every outbreak situation”.
“Four cases have now been reported, and two people have died," he updated, adding that authorities in Guinea on Sunday declared a separate Ebola outbreak in the town of Gouéké, in the country’s southeast.
“So far, three cases have been confirmed, among six people who reported Ebola like-symptoms after attending a funeral in late January," he said. “Two have since died, while the other four are being treated in hospital."
He informed the journalists that although both outbreaks are in hard-to-reach, insecure areas with mistrust of outsiders, WHO is working closely with health authorities to engage affected communities to enhance trust and acceptance in both countries.
While Ebola and Covid are “two very different diseases”, Tedros said that “both thrive on misinformation and mistrust” and can both be stopped with proven public health measures, engaged communities, accurate information and vaccines.