Geneva: The most urgent focus now for the World Health Organization (WHO) is ensuring that all countries have access to vaccines on an equitable basis, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Thursday.
He also said at the 6th Meeting of the Emergency Committee on COVID-19 that there are two urgent issues now: the first is the recent emergence of new variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, and the second is the potential use of vaccination and testing certificates for international travel.
“I’m sure, like me, your main hope and wish for 2021 is that together we can end the pandemic and help to restore a sense of normalcy in all countries. The rollout of vaccines is of course giving all of us hope of light at the end of the tunnel,” he said.
He stressed that “We are all in this together, and we must all come out of it together.”
“Now is the time to set up sustainable response strategies and to measure and monitor the impact of interventions so that we will be able to learn and benefit in the future,” he noted.
The Emergency Committee on COVID-19 held its first meeting on Jan. 22-23, 2020. Then, on Jan. 30 of last year, following its second meeting, the WHO chief declared that the outbreak of the disease constituted a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.
Since then, more than 90 million cases have been reported to the WHO, with almost 2 million deaths.
As the world is struggling to contain the pandemic, vaccination is underway in some countries with the already-authorized coronavirus vaccines.
Meanwhile, 236 candidate vaccines are still being developed worldwide — 63 of them in clinical trials — in countries including Germany, China, Russia, Britain and the United States, according to information released by the WHO on Jan. 12.