India remains hugely concerning: WHO

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World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus speaks at the 73rd World Health Assembly at the WHO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, May 18, 2020. (WHO/Handout via Xinhua/IANS)

India remains hugely concerning, with several states continuing to see a worrying number of cases, hospitalizations and deaths, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director General said in a briefing that WHO is responding and has shipped thousands of oxygen concentrators, tents for mobile field hospitals, masks and other medical supplies. “And we thank all the stakeholders who are supporting India,” he said.

“COVID-19 has already cost more than 3.3 million lives and we’re on track for the second year of this pandemic to be far more deadly than the first,” Tedros said.

However, it’s not only India that has emergency needs, he added. Nepal, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Egypt are just some of the countries that are dealing with spikes in cases and hospitalizations.

He added that the fact that so many are still not protected is a sad reflection on the gross distortion in access to vaccines across the globe.

“In January, I spoke about the potential unfolding of a moral catastrophe. Unfortunately, we are now witnessing this play out. In a handful of rich countries, which bought up the majority of the vaccine supply, lower risk groups are now being vaccinated,” he said.

“I understand why some countries want to vaccinate their children and adolescents, but right now I urge them to reconsider and to instead donate vaccines to COVAX,” WHO said.

“Because in low and lower-middle income countries, vaccine supply has not been enough to even immunize health and care workers, and hospitals are being inundated with people that need lifesaving care urgently. At present, only 0.3 per cent of vaccine supply is going to low-income countries,” he added.

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