In a speech in the Japanese capital, Tokyo, he said the world must unite with “determination, dedication and discipline” to triumph over the COVID-19 pandemic.
“More than any other event (the Games) have the power to bring the world together; to inspire; to show what is possible, ”said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO), with the Olympic flame in hand in front of the International Olympic Committee.
He warned that the world was now in the early stages of another wave of infection and death, and urged all countries to undertake a “massive global push” to vaccinate at least 10 percent of their population by September.
Today, 75 percent of vaccines were given in just 10 countries, Tedros said, while in low-income countries “only one percent of people received at least one dose”.
The WHO chief said the world’s failure to share vaccines, tests and treatments, including oxygen, is fueling a “two-pronged pandemic” between the haves who open up and the haves who shut themselves off.
“It’s not just a moral outrage; it is also epidemiologically and economically self-destructive, ”he said, warning that the longer inequality lasts, the slower the recovery will be.
More transmissions will result in potentially more dangerous mutations, even larger than the devastating Delta variant, he warned. “And the more variants, the higher the likelihood that one of them will bypass vaccines and put us all back in first place,” the WHO official signaled, repeating that “none of us is safe until we are all safe” .
‘Ill and tired’
Tedros called the pandemic a “world fails” test and reminded us that we are not in a race against each other, but against the virus.
“In the time it takes me to make these comments, more than 100 people will lose their lives to COVID-19,” he said. “And by the time the Olympic flame goes out on August 8th, more than 100,000 more people will perish.”
COVID has already cost more than four million lives and the number of deaths continues to rise this year, according to the WHO chief, the number of deaths has already more than doubled last year.
“The people in the world are sick and tired,” he said, “sick of the virus … the lives and livelihoods it has cost … the suffering it has caused … and clubs …[and] the dark clouds that it has thrown over our future ”.
By the time the Olympic flame is extinguished … more than 100,000 more people will perish – WHO chiefImportant lessons
The COVID-19 pandemic has taught many painful but important lessons, including the fact that when health is at risk, everything is at risk, the UN official said.
“That’s why WHO is a top priority for universal health care,” he said, sharing a vision of a world where everyone can access health services where and when they need them, without running into financial hardship.
When asked when the pandemic will end, Tedros replies: “When the world decides to end it”.
“We have the tools to prevent transmission and save lives. Our common goal must be to vaccinate 70 percent of the population of each country by the middle of next year, “he concluded.
Track the virus
Meanwhile, the WHO reported on Wednesday a 12 percent increase in new cases worldwide compared to the previous one, totaling 3.4 million new cases.
Since the pandemic began 19 months ago, there have been more than 190 million confirmed infections and more than 4,109,000 deaths.