NEW YORK. KAZINFORM – Vaccination, testing and readiness to repel new outbreaks – if inequality in these issues is overcome, humanity can end the pandemic by the end of this year. This was stated by the UN Secretary-General, speaking at a high-level event dedicated to the fight against COVID-19. It took place on the sidelines of the 77th session of the UN General Assembly, Kazinform reports with reference to UN News Center.
The consequences of the pandemic
Secretary General António Guterres recalled that this is the third session of the General Assembly, which is taking place in a pandemic. He noted that the spread of COVID-19 has exacerbated many problems in the world and worsened the lives of millions of people. Despite the heroic efforts of doctors, according to Guterres, the world was completely unprepared for the devastating consequences of the pandemic. “And while no one has been spared, low- and middle-income countries have been hardest hit,” the UN chief added.
At the same time, as he stressed, some achievements inspire hope, which “gives strength”. Among them is an increase in the vaccination rates of the population, including the groups most vulnerable to the disease. Only ten countries – mostly in humanitarian crises – currently have less than ten percent vaccination coverage. On average, the countries managed to vaccinate about 75 percent of health workers and the elderly.
In addition, effective antiviral drugs have become available, which, together with testing and vaccination, help reduce the death rate from COVID-19 among the populations most vulnerable to this infection. “But it is necessary to ensure that these funds are available to everyone,” the head of the UN stressed.
COVID-19 can be brought under control
“The success achieved shows that the virus is treatable, we can save lives. And we are able to bring the infection under control, even among high-risk groups,” he added.
At the same time, as the UN Secretary General warned, in order to achieve a complete victory over the virus, several problems must be overcome.
First, in the field of providing booster doses of vaccinations. In poor countries, for example, just over a third of health workers received additional vaccines.
Secondly, as the head of the UN noted, testing, the rates of which are declining around the world. And this, he continued, opens the way for the emergence of new strains and threatens the effectiveness of existing treatments.
And third, as Guterres warned, it is necessary to prepare for possible new threats by investing in early warning systems, expanding the ability to produce treatments and diagnostics in the field, and taking care of the medical staff. “(Crisis) should never take us by surprise again,” the UN chief stressed. He called on the meeting participants to complete the necessary work and defeat COVID-19.
The Director-General of the World Health Organization, Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus, confirmed that the chances of ending a pandemic have never been as high as they are today. He also recalled inequalities and called for bridging the existing gap in vaccination rates, the provision of drugs for treatment and the level of preparation for future shocks.
Over the past year, under the COVAX mechanism, more than 1.5 billion doses of vaccines have been delivered to countries around the world, access to medical oxygen and antiviral drugs has been increased. In particular, we managed to conclude an agreement with Pfizer, which produces Paxlovid. Now this tool will become more accessible to a wider segment of the population.
As Dr Tedros noted, it is also very important to integrate the response to COVID-19 into the planned work of international organizations and partnerships in the field of health.
He called for bridging the gap in vaccine coverage, stepping up efforts to track new strains and improving access to antivirals. “We have not yet reached the finish line, but it has already appeared on the horizon,” said the head of WHO, recalling again that the runner does not leave the race, standing on the finish line, but adds speed. “And that is how we should act,” he summed up his speech.