Home / News / World /  'Covid pandemic taught us health is most precious commodity': WHO chief

World Health Organization chief has warned that the Covid pandemic is not over yet and has appealed to people to get vaccinated.

During the 75th session of the Regional Committee for WHO South-East Asia commenced in Bhutan yesterday, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus added, "The pandemic is not yet over. The virus is still circulating and still changing...If the pandemic has taught us nothing else, it has taught us that health is the most precious commodity on earth. A commodity that must be cherished, prized, and fought for every day. Not as a luxury for the privileged, but as a fundamental human right".

He said the decline in Covid cases around the world could be due to low testing rates. According to the WHO's data, there were 4.5 million new Covid cases reported last week, a 16% drop from the previous week. Deaths were also down by 13%, with about 13,500 fatalities. The UN health agency added that coronavirus infection dropped everywhere in the world while deaths decreased everywhere except for Southeast Asia, where they climbed by 15%, and in the Western Pacific, where they rose by 3%.

WHO Director-General Tedros warned that with the coming onset of winter in the Northern Hemisphere and the possible emergence of a more dangerous new Covid-19 variant, experts expect to see a spike in hospitalizations and deaths. Tedros said vaccination rates, even in rich countries, were still too low, noting that 30% of health workers and 20% of older people remain unimmunized.

Tedros wanted all countries to have vaccinated 70 percent of their populations by the end of June.

But 136 countries failed to reach the target, of which 66 still had coverage below 40%.

Last month, the WHO chief said only 10 countries had less than 10 percent coverage, most of which were facing humanitarian emergencies.

"One-third of the world's population remains unvaccinated, including two-thirds of health workers and three-quarters of older adults in low-income countries. All countries at all income levels must do more to vaccinate those most at risk, to ensure access to life-saving therapeutics, to continue testing and sequencing, and to set tailored, proportionate policies to limit transmission and save lives".

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