Tuesday, 1 Dec 2020

WHO issues terrifying Covid warning despite vaccine boost – ‘It’s not tired of us yet!’

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Hundreds of countries around the world have been desperately fighting the pandemic for almost a year, which has killed more than 1.2 million people, infected nearly 53 million and hospitalised many millions more. The biggest medical crisis in recent history has also forced nations into total lockdown, devastating fragile economies with the loss of tens of millions of jobs that have turned peoples’ lives upside down. But in the latest dire warning, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told countries not to pin their hopes on the rapid release of various vaccines currently in the latter stages of development.

He told the Paris Peace Forum: “We may be tired of COVID-19 but it is not tired of us.

“European countries are struggling but the virus has not changed significantly, nor the measures to stop it.”

In a further warning, the WHO boss added: “It preys on those in weaker health, but it preys on other weaknesses too: inequality, division, denial, wishful thinking and willful ignorance.

“We cannot negotiate with it, nor close our eyes and hope it goes away.

“It pays no heed to political rhetoric or conspiracy theories.

“Our only hope is science, solutions and solidarity.”

The WHO Director-General also warned the coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the need for the world to recapture a “sense of common purpose”, which he said in recent years has been eroded by the “creeping tides of misguided nationalism and isolationism”.

Countries are now battling with a resurgence in coronavirus infections that has forced several to impose new and strict lockdown measures in a bid to contain the spread of the virus and protect their vulnerable healthcare systems.

Economies are also taking a further battering, with many businesses, particularly in the hospitality sector, once again struggling to stay afloat.

But on Monday, US drug maker Pfizer and German partner BioNTech SE revealed the vaccine the pair are developing together is 90 percent effective against coronavirus.

This was based on early results from its wide-ranging, late-stage trial.

The vaccine could be released into national healthcare systems as early as next month, with countries around the world scrambling to buy tens of millions of doses.

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The WHO boss warned: “A vaccine is needed urgently, but we cannot wait for a vaccine and put all our eggs in one basket.”

It comes as European officials warn over complacency against coronavirus and said measures to control a surge in infections must continue, despite the possible release of new vaccines.

The announcement of a vaccine from Pfizer raised hopes that an end to the crisis could finally be in sight, but health authorities and leaders throughout the continent urged people to continue complying with lockdowns as it became clear that vaccines would not come soon enough for many COVID-19 sufferers.

Lothar Wieler, head of Germany’s Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases, said: “We really must grit our teeth for a couple more months.”

Ernst Kuipers, head of the Dutch national hospital association LNAZ, said: “Infections went down fast last week, but we need to make more progress.

“We keep stressing the importance of following the rules.”

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