‘Pandemic far from over’: Warning as only 3% of people vaccinated globally
The coronavirus pandemic is far from over and “crushing waves of new cases are on the horizon” if countries abandon public health precautions, a top medical expert has warned.
Dr Tom Kenyon, chief health officer at Project HOPE, a humanitarian NGO, said that despite strong progress in vaccinating against the pandemic, only 3 per cent of the global population has been fully vaccinated.
He added that in higher income countries 56 per cent of doses have been administered, but only around 10 per cent of people in lower-income countries will be inoculated in the next year.
Dr Keynon, who previously worked with the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said it was vital that we now “make vaccines accessible to all countries faster” as it is the only way out of the pandemic.
He said: “We should not let ourselves be misled by this early domestic progress when the majority of Americans remain unvaccinated – and when only 3 per cent of the global population has been fully vaccinated.
“To date, 56 per cent of doses have been administered in high-income countries accounting for 16 per cent of the global population.
“At the current rate, it is likely that only 10 per cent of people in the majority of poor countries will be vaccinated in the next year.
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“The global vaccine inequity needs to be addressed because it is the right thing to do from a humanitarian standpoint, but also to prevent the global proliferation of other variants that threaten the usefulness of current diagnostic tests, therapies and vaccines.”
Many lower-income countries have struggled to get their hands on vaccine supplies as richer countries have hoovered them up.
This is despite the Covax initiative, a UN-backed scheme, run by the World Health Organisation (WHO), that is designed to get vaccine supplies to less wealthy countries.
The WHO last month published a list of the first vaccine allocations under the scheme, but rollout has been slower than expected due to supply issues.
On the inoculation rollout, Dr Kenyon added: “It is not only our human imperative to make vaccines accessible to all countries faster and in sufficient quantities, but also our only viable way out of this global health crisis.”
He also warned countries to remain in “pandemic emergency-mode” and utilise important public health measures such as vaccination and wearing masks.
Referring to a recent relaxation Covid restrictions in some US states, he said: “One thing is clear: This pandemic is far from over.
“Crushing waves of new cases are on the horizon if we behave recklessly, such as the recent lifting of mandatory mask mandates by some governors and the large public gatherings we witnessed over spring break.”
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