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Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), has said that vaccines are now giving a window of opportunity to bring the Covid-19 pandemic under control, but they may also exacerbate the inequalities in distribution across the globe.
Speaking at a press briefing here on Friday, Tedros urged the world not to squander another window of opportunity to curb the pandemic, reports Xinhua news agency.
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“A year ago, I said the world had a ‘window of opportunity’ to prevent widespread transmission of this new virus.”
The WHO chief was referring to a time when there were fewer than 100 Covid-19 cases and no deaths outside China.
“This week, we reached 100 million reported cases. More cases have been reported in the past two weeks than during the first six months of the pandemic.
“Vaccine nationalism might serve short-term political goals. But it’s ultimately short-sighted and self-defeating.
“When a village is on fire, it makes no sense for a small group of people to hoard all the extinguishers to defend their own houses,” Tedros said.
Since vaccines are a limited resource, the WHO has repeatedly called for their effective and fair use, according to the Director-General.
“That’s why I have challenged the government and industry leaders to work together to ensure that in the first 100 days of 2021, vaccination of health workers and older people is underway in all countries,” Tedros said.
He further called on people in countries that are now rolling out vaccines to use their voice to advocate for their government to share doses.
Healthcare workers have been on the frontlines of the pandemic and paid an extremely high price in this pandemic.
“Now it’s time to show our love and appreciation for health workers by making sure all health workers are vaccinated,” he said.
The WHO chief’s remarks come as the total number of global coronavirus cases has topped 102 million, while the deaths have surged to more than 2.20 million, according to the Johns Hopkins University.
In its latest update on Saturday morning, the University’s Center for Systems Science and Engineering revealed that the current global caseload and death toll stood at 102,007,480 and 2,204,494, respectively. (IANS)
Equal Distribution of Tools is the Ultimate Measure of Success in COVID Battle: WHO Director-General
World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that the ultimate measure of success in fighting COVID-19 will not be how fast the tools are developed but how equally they can be distributed.
Speaking at the opening of the European Union (EU) COVID-19 online pledging conference Monday afternoon, the WHO chief said it will be unacceptable that some people in the world are protected while others remain exposed to the virus, Xinhua news agency reported.
“This is an opportunity not only to defeat a common enemy, but to forge a common future, a future in which all people enjoy the right to the highest attainable standard of health,” he noted.
Ten days ago, the WHO and the European Commission co-hosted the launch of a global collaboration to accelerate the development, production and equitable access to new COVID-19 diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines, and Monday’s pledging event is a follow-up to this effort.
Noting that the world is facing an unprecedented public health crisis, Tedros told the conference that “we are better positioned than any humans in history to confront it”.
The EU and its partners hosted an international pledging conference Monday afternoon, aiming to raise 7.5 billion euros in initial funding to kick-start global cooperation on coronavirus. (IANS)
The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted global food supplies and is causing labor shortages in agriculture worldwide. This is the latest health news.
Are there food shortages?
Panic buying by shoppers cleared supermarket shelves of staples such as pasta and flour as populations worldwide prepared for lockdowns.
Meat and dairy producers as well as fruit and vegetable farmers struggled to shift supplies from restaurants to grocery stores, creating the perception of shortages for consumers.
Retailers and authorities say there are no underlying shortages and supplies of most products have been or will be replenished. Bakery and pasta firms in Europe and North America have increased production.
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Food firms say panic purchasing is subsiding as households have stocked up and are adjusting to lockdown routines.
The logistics to get food from the field to the plate, however, are being increasingly affected and point to longer-term problems.
In the short term, lack of air freight and trucker shortages are disrupting deliveries of fresh food.
In the long term, lack of labor is affecting planting and harvesting and could cause shortages and rising prices for staple crops in a throwback to the food crises that shook developing nations a decade ago.
What’s disrupting the food supply?
With many planes grounded and shipping containers hard to find after the initial coronavirus crisis in China, shipments of vegetables from Africa to Europe or fruit from South America to the United States are being disrupted.
A labor shortage could also cause crops to rot in the fields.
As spring starts in Europe, farms are rushing to find enough workers to pick strawberries and asparagus, after border closures prevented the usual flow of foreign laborers. France has called on its own citizens to help offset an estimated shortfall of 200,000 workers.
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More wide-scale crop losses are looming in India, where a lockdown has sent masses of workers home, leaving farms and markets short of hands as staple crops like wheat near harvest.
Is food going to cost more?
Wheat futures surged in March to two-month highs, partly because of the spike in demand for bakery and pasta goods, while corn (maize) sank to a 3½-year low as its extensive use in biofuel exposed it to an oil price collapse.
Benchmark Thai white rice prices have already hit their highest level in eight years.
Swings in commodity markets are not necessarily passed on in prices of grocery goods, as food firms typically buy raw materials in advance. A sustained rise in prices will, however, eventually be passed on to consumers.
Some poorer countries subsidize food to keep prices stable.
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The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization has warned that a rush to buy by countries that rely on imports of staple foods could fuel global food inflation, despite ample reserves of staple crops.
Fresh produce such as fruit or fish or unprocessed grains such as rice reflect more immediately changes in supply and demand.
Will there be enough food if the crisis lasts?
Analysts say global supplies of the most widely consumed food crops are adequate. Wheat production is projected to be at record levels in the year ahead.
However, the concentration of exportable supply of some food commodities in a small number of countries and export restrictions by big suppliers concerned about having enough supply at home can make world supply more fragile than headline figures suggest.
Another source of tension in global food supply could be China. There are signs the country is scooping up foreign agricultural supplies as it emerges from its coronavirus shutdown and rebuilds its massive pork industry after a devastating pig disease epidemic. (VOA)