“1.5 million cases of Covid per day, a new wave is sweeping over Europe”: Antonio Guterres, UN chief

“1.5 million new Covid cases every day. A new wave is sweeping across Europe,” the UN chief said.

The United Nations:

With new coronavirus variants emerging every four months on average, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has warned that the COVID-19 pandemic is far from over as large outbreaks spread across Asia.

Mr. Guterres also called on governments and pharmaceutical companies to work together to get vaccines to everyone, everywhere.

In a “One World Protected – Break COVID Now” video message to the GAVI COVAX Advance Market Commitment Summit 2022, Guterres said on Friday the rally is a critical reminder that “the COVID-19 pandemic is far from over.” .

“We are seeing 1.5 million new cases every day. Large epidemics are spreading in Asia. A new wave is sweeping Europe,” he said, adding that some countries were reporting their highest death rates. since the start of the pandemic.

He said the Omicron variant of the coronavirus is a “surprising reminder” of how quickly COVID-19 can mutate and spread – especially in the absence of high vaccination coverage.

As some high-income countries prepare for their second booster doses, a third of humanity remains unvaccinated, he lamented.

“This is a stark indictment of our deeply unequal world. It is also fertile ground for new variants…more deaths…and increased human and economic misery,” he said. -he declares.

Mr Guterres said the next variant is not a question of “if” but of “when”.

“We are far from our goal of reaching 70% vaccination coverage in every country by the middle of this year. And with new variants appearing every four months on average, time is running out,” he said. -he declares.

He added that governments and pharmaceutical companies must work together to get vaccines to everyone, everywhere – not just in wealthy countries.

A new strain of the COVID-19 Omicron variant, first detected in the UK, appears to be more transmissible than previous strains of the virus, the World Health Organization (WHO) has said.

The WHO said last week that the XE (BA.1-BA.2) recombinant was first detected in the UK on January 19 and that more than 600 sequences have been reported and confirmed since.

“Early estimates indicate a community growth rate advantage of 10% over BA.2. However, this finding requires further confirmation,” the WHO said.

He added that XE belongs to the Omicron variant until significant differences in transmission and disease characteristics, including severity, can be reported.

“WHO continues to closely monitor and assess the public health risk associated with recombinant variants, alongside other variants of SARS-CoV-2, and will provide updates as further developments arise. new evidence will become available.”

The WHO’s weekly COVID-19 epidemiological update published this week indicates that after the increase observed during the first half of March 2022, the number of new cases of COVID-19 has decreased for a second consecutive week. , with a drop of 16% during the week. from March 28 to April 3 compared to the previous week.

The number of new weekly deaths also fell sharply (-43%) compared to the previous week, when an artificial peak in deaths was observed.

Across the six WHO regions, more than nine million new cases and more than 26,000 new deaths have been reported. All regions reported downward trends in both the number of new weekly cases and new weekly deaths.

As of April 3, more than 489 million cases and more than 6 million deaths have been reported worldwide.

Nationally, the highest number of new weekly cases were reported by South Korea (2,058,375 new cases; a 16% decrease), Germany (1,371,270 new cases; a 13% decrease ), France (959,084 new cases; an increase of 13%), Vietnam (796,725 new cases; a decrease of 29%) and Italy (486,695 new cases; a decrease of 3%).

The highest number of new weekly deaths were reported in the United States of America (4,435 new deaths; down 10%), Russia (2,357 new deaths; down 18%), South Korea (2,336 new deaths; down 5% drop), Germany (1,592 new deaths; down 5%) and Brazil (1,436 new deaths; down 19%).

Noting that the supply of COVID-19 vaccines is not the problem as manufacturers produce 1.5 billion doses per month, Guterres said progress in achieving vaccine equity is possible. but the window closes quickly.

“That means countries are meeting and accelerating dose-sharing and donation commitments to COVAX with better quality of supply. And that means having strong national ready-to-use vaccine distribution systems – including to counter misinformation and put vaccines in arms.” He called on countries to commit new funding for the ACT-Accelerator and COVAX this year.

The COVAX Facility is the global pooled procurement mechanism for COVID-19 vaccines through which COVAX seeks to ensure fair and equitable access to vaccines for the 190 participating economies, using an allocation framework formulated by the WHO.

(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

Mary I. Bruner