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WHO: 70% global vaccination needed to end pandemic now

WHO: 70% global vaccination needed to end pandemic now
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO)
Written by Harry Johnson

Only 11% of Africans have reportedly been vaccinated, making it the least inoculated continent in the world. Last week, the WHO’s Africa office said the region needed to boost its vaccination rate by ‘six times’ in order to meet the WHO’s 70% target.

Speaking at a press conference in South Africa today, World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that expectations were that the ‘acute phase’ of the COVID-19 pandemic would be over by “mid-year around June, July” if the vaccination rate of the world’s population reaches 70%.

Crossing that vaccination threshold is ‘not a matter of chance,’ but a ‘matter of choice,’ said Ghebreyesus, adding that the coronavirus was not ‘finished with us’ and the decision to mobilize resources to meet that target is “’in our hands.’

Ghebreyesus said that ‘more than 10 billion doses had been administered globally’ over the past two years but the ‘scientific triumph’ of COVID-19 vaccine development and deployment had been ‘marred by vast inequities in access.’

While ‘more than half the world’s population is now fully vaccinated,’ he said ‘84% of the population of Africa is yet to receive a single dose.’ The concentration of vaccine production in a ‘few mostly high-income countries’ is to blame for ‘much of this inequity,’ WHO chief stressed.

Only 11% of Africans have reportedly been vaccinated, making it the least inoculated continent in the world. Last week, the WHO’s Africa office said the region needed to boost its vaccination rate by ‘six times’ in order to meet the WHO’s 70% target.

To that end, Ghebreyesus stressed the ‘urgent need to increase local production of vaccines’ in ‘low- and middle-income countries.’ He pointed to the recent development of the continent’s first locally-produced mRNA COVID-19 vaccine – made using the Moderna shot’s sequence – as a promising step. It was created by Afrigen Biologics and Vaccines through a pilot technology transfer project, backed by the WHO and the COVAX initiative.

“We expect this vaccine to be more suited to the contexts in which it will be used, with fewer storage constraints and at a lower price,” Ghebreyesus said, adding that the shot will be ready to begin clinical trials later in the year, with approval expected in 2024.

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About the author

Harry Johnson

Harry Johnson has been the assignment editor for eTurboNews for mroe than 20 years. He lives in Honolulu, Hawaii, and is originally from Europe. He enjoys writing and covering the news.

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