WHO director Tedros Adhanom has blamed the unequal distribution of vaccines as one of the reasons for the emergence of the Omicron variant.
Mr Tedros stressed that until there is an equitable distribution of doses “the virus will have opportunities to spread and evolve in ways that we cannot predict or prevent.” Africa has only 11% of its population immunized.
In his words, “It is another reminder that although some think that COVID has ended, it is not, we continue to experience cycles of panic and forgetfulness in which progress made with great effort can be lost, ” said Tedros at the opening of an extraordinary assembly of the WHO to negotiate a pandemic preparedness treaty.
The Ethiopian expert stated that South Africa and Botswana, the first countries to report cases of the new variant, “should be grateful for this, not penalized”, in the sense that many governments have suspended air links with those and other African territories.
“The current system discourages countries from alerting others to possible threats,” Tedros lamented in view of what happened to those countries, noting that “this shows that the world needs a new pandemic preparedness agreement” in which these problems issues are corrected.
The general director stated that it is not yet known whether the omicron variant is associated with greater ease of contagion or reinfection, more serious cases or greater resistance to vaccines, although he stressed that “scientists around the world are working against the clock to respond to this questions”.
He added that “the world should not need a wake-up call” like the one generated by the variant to remain alert in a crisis that “tests the world’s ability to prevent and respond to future pandemics.”
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