The COVID-19 pandemic is 'far from over': WHO chief says billions still at risk
The head of the World Health Organization stressed Wednesday that the global Covid-19 pandemic is still "far from over" and lamented the ongoing and "major" barriers in getting vaccines and treatments "everywhere they are needed."
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus' remarks at a press briefing came just days before the two-year anniversary of the global health agency officially declaring the coronavirus a pandemic on March 11, 2020.
In the years since, the virus has killed over six million people worldwide—a death toll estimate that many experts agree in reality is far higher—as public health campaigners have continued to lambast vastly unequal access to lifesaving jabs and technology, including through coronavirus-related intellectual property protections.
While Covid-19 cases and deaths are waning, Tedros said that the pandemic "will not be over anywhere until it's over everywhere."
He noted for example that currently "many countries in Asia and the Pacific are facing surges of cases and deaths" and also expressed concern over some countries' drastic reduction in testing.
The WHO also announced new self-testing guidance, saying they should be offered alongside lab testing.
Such kits, The Associated Press reported, "have rarely been available in poor countries."
Tedros added that the health agency and its partners are working on procuring additional funding to rapidly get self-tests to those countries requesting them.
Campaigners with the Peoples Vaccine Alliance, meanwhile, are gearing up to mark Friday's anniversary with virtual and in-person events centered on the demand to the monopolies that large pharmaceutical companies have maintained over the ownership of patents and manufacturing of vaccines and other treatments.
"As we enter the third year of the Covid-19 pandemic, billions of people worldwide still don't have access to Covid vaccines and treatments," organizers declare. "Meanwhile, pharmaceutical companies are recording profits of over $1 million per hour and world leaders refuse to stand up to them."
"Join us," they said, "to demand world leaders stand with people, not Big Pharma, and finally end this pandemic."
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