United Nations | Xinhua | UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Monday called for vaccine equity and continued vigilance against the coronavirus as global COVID-19 deaths exceeded 5 million.
“Today, the human family crosses a painful new threshold: 5 million lives lost to COVID-19,” he said in a statement. “This devastating milestone reminds us that we are failing much of the world.”
While wealthy countries are rolling out third doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, only about 5 percent of people in Africa are fully vaccinated. This is a global shame, he said.
The five-million threshold should also stand as a clear warning: guard against the virus cannot be lowered, he said.
There are still more deaths, overcrowded hospitals and exhausted health workers, and the risk of new variants spreading and claiming more lives. At the same time, other dangerous threats continue to allow COVID-19 to thrive — misinformation, vaccine hoarding and vaccine nationalism, and lack of global solidarity, he said.
“I urge world leaders to fully support the global vaccination strategy I launched with the World Health Organization last month. We need to get vaccines into the arms of 40 percent of people in all countries by the end of this year — and 70 percent by mid-2022. I call on them to deliver with urgency and scale, address funding gaps and coordinate their actions for success,” Guterres said.
It would be a mistake to think that the pandemic is over. As restrictions ease in many places, there is a need to match vaccines with vigilance, including through smart and proven public health measures like masking and social distancing, he said.
“The best way to honor those 5 million people lost, and support health workers fighting this virus every day, is to make vaccine equity a reality by accelerating our efforts and ensuring maximum vigilance to defeat this virus,” said Guterres.