COVID-19 “vaccine nationalism will prolong the pandemic, not shorten it”: WHO chief

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As the world continues its search for a COVID-19 vaccine, the World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom said on Thursday “vaccine nationalism will prolong the pandemic, not shorten it.”

Tedros made the remarks in his opening address at the member state briefing on COVID-19.

“It is natural that countries want to protect their own citizens first,” he said. “But if and when we have an effective vaccine, we must also use it effectively. And the best way to do that is to vaccinate some people in all countries, rather than all people in some countries.”

The 55-year-old’s call comes just a day after the publication of an analysis of pooled results from seven studies, led by the WHO and published Wednesday by the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that steroids reduced the risk of death in the first month by about one-third compared to placebo treatment or usual care alone in these seriously ill patients who needed extra oxygen.

Health experts have hailed the development as a huge step forward, but noted that the results do not mean a cure for COVID-19 has been found.

In his address on Thursday, Tedros called for global cooperation in the fight against the pandemic, saying unity gave the world had a bigger chance at winning the battle.

“The only way to recover faster, be it lives or livelihoods, is to recover together,” he said.

By Thursday afternoon, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Africa had surpassed the 26 million mark with a death toll exceeding 863,000, according to figures from the Johns Hopkins University.