| 2 December 2021, Thursday |

WHO says COVID-19 pandemic could ‘easily drag on deep into 2022’

A senior World Health Organization official said that failing to provide COVID-19 vaccines to poor countries could drag the pandemic into 2022.

The coronavirus has cost the lives of between 80,000 to 180,000 health care staff, according to the WHO, with just two in five health workers inoculated globally.

“Data from 119 countries suggest that on average, two in five healthcare workers globally are fully inoculated,” WHO head Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, criticizing the unfair distribution of jabs.

“But of course, that average masks huge differences across regions and economic groupings,” he added.

Less than one in 10 healthcare workers are vaccinated against the virus in Africa, Ghebreyesus said, an essential difference when put up against richer nations that account for eight in 10 workers.

In addition, the overall average inoculation rate in Africa is less than 5 percent, while other continents have an average rate of 40 percent.

Senior leader at the WHO Dr. Bruce Aylward believes that failing to provide vaccine shots to poorer countries would mean that the COVID-19 pandemic could “easily drag on deep into 2022.”

The vast majority of vaccines have been used in high or upper middle-income nations and Africa accounts for just 2.6 percent of doses administered globally, the BBC reported.

“I can tell you we’re not on track,” said Alyward. “We really need to speed it up or you know what? This pandemic is going to go on for a year longer than it needs to.”

He appealed to wealthy countries, urging them to give up their places in the queue for vaccine shots so that pharma companies could prioritize the lowest-income nations instead.