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WHO urges governments to get Covid vaccinations under way within next 100 days

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“Governments, manufacturers, civil society, religious and community leaders must come together to create the greatest mass mobilisation in history for equitable vaccination.”

Fie picture: Reuters/Dado Ruvic

WORLD Health Organization (WHO) director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has said that there needs to be a “collective commitment” to get vaccinations under way worldwide for health workers and others who are at high risk of catching Covid-19, within the next 100 days.

Tedros was briefing journalists in Geneva, Switzerland, on Monday, a year on from the first-ever recorded Covid-19-related death.

On Wednesday there are more than 1.93 million dead and nearly 90 million confirmed cases globally.

“Governments, manufacturers, civil society, religious and community leaders must come together to create the greatest mass mobilisation in history for equitable vaccination,” he said, noting that he was pleased that a WHO team was in China to assess the compliance of Sinovac and Sinopharm ahead of potential emergency use listing.

This is separate from another “WHO origins” mission team, whose access to Wuhan to study how the pandemic began was delayed last week, according to the UN health agency chief.

“Studies will begin in Wuhan to identify the potential source of infection of the early cases. Scientific evidence will drive hypotheses, which will then be the basis for further, longer-term studies,” he added.

He said yet another new variant or mutation of the virus had emerged in Japan over the weekend, while transmissibility “appears to be increasing”.

Although the increased infectiousness can drive more cases, hospitalisations and deaths, “at present, the variants do not seem to show increased severity of disease”, he added, offering some reassurance.

“With new treatments coming down the pipeline, we are hopeful that more lives of those with serious cases of Covid-19 can be saved. But we need to follow the public health basics, now more than ever.”

Most critical, Tedros said, is to effectively sequence the DNA and composition of the virus, “so we know how it’s changing and how to respond”. There may be a need to “tweak” both diagnostics and vaccines in order to keep pace with the mutations, he said.

Tedros further called on all countries to increase the sequencing of the virus in order to supplement ongoing surveillance, monitoring and test efforts.

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