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World faces going ‘back to square one’ as more Covid variants emerge, WHO warns – World News

The world could go “back to square one” in the fight against Covid if countries do not work together, the head of the World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned.

Tedros Adhanom, 56, urged the need for a combined global effort in a keynote speech ahead of the Tokyo Olympics – which has been delayed by the virus.

The WHO director-general said to assembled dignitaries that “none of us is safe until all of us are safe” – and added: “We are not in a race against each other; we are in a race against the virus.”

Global cases currently stand at more than 192million, with 4.14million deaths – and rising.

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Mr Adhanom was speaking ahead of the Tokyo Olympics

Mr Adhanom said that the pandemic will continue to rage until it is tackled all over the world and not just in high income countries.

And he warned that new strains “even more dangerous than the Delta variant” could emerge.

Mr Adhanom said: “The threat is not over anywhere until it’s over everywhere.

“Anyone who thinks the pandemic is over because it’s over where they live is living in a fool’s paradise.

“Vaccines are powerful and essential tools. But the world has not used them well.



Boaters drift on Lake Union at the Seattle Kraken
Mr Adhanom said the deployment of vaccines had been a “horrifying injustice”

“Instead of being deployed widely to quell the pandemic on all fronts, they have been concentrated in the hands and arms of the lucky few; deployed to protect the world’s most privileged people, including those at lowest risk of severe disease, while the most vulnerable remain unprotected.

“More than three-and-a-half billion vaccine doses have now been administered globally, and more than one in four people have received at least one vaccine dose.

“On the surface, that’s good news. But it masks a horrifying injustice.

“75% of vaccines have been administered in just 10 countries. In low income countries, only 1% of people have received at least one dose, compared with more than half of people in high-income countries.

“Some of the richest countries are now talking about third booster shots for their populations, while health-workers, older people and other vulnerable groups in the rest of the world continue to go without.

“The global failure to share vaccines, tests, and treatments – including oxygen – is fuelling a two-track pandemic: the haves are opening up, while the have-nots are locking down.

“This is not just a moral outrage; it’s also epidemiologically and economically self-defeating.

“The longer this discrepancy persists, the longer the pandemic will drag on, and so will the social and economic turmoil it brings.

“The more transmission, the more variants will emerge with the potential to be even more dangerous than the Delta variant that is causing such devastation now.”

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Volunteers pray in front of bodies of people who died due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), during their funeral at a cemetery in Mandalay, Myanmar
Cases and deaths are surging in some parts of the world

While England eased most of its social distancing measures this week, it has emerged that other countries are back in the grips of a deadly wave.

For example, hospitals in Indonesia’s Papua are near capacity amid a surge in cases, with health officials bracing for the full impact of the virus.

The bed occupancy rate at some hospitals in the eastern province has reached 100 per cent, with emergency units and tents being used to treat people.

Mr Adhanom added: “The tragedy of this pandemic is that it could have been under control by now, if vaccines had been allocated more equitably.

“The distortion in the manufacturing and distribution of vaccines has exposed and amplified the searing inequalities that have stained human history for aeons, and which imperil our future.”

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