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    WHO’s aid plea warns of risks from new variants

    HealthCOVID-19WHO's aid plea warns of risks from new variants
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    WHO’s aid plea warns of risks from new variants

    Warning of the emergence of more dangerous variants of COVID-19 on the anvil, a press release pointed out the inequities in the access to vaccines can cost lives in such a situation.

    World leaders launched a call to end the pandemic as a global emergency in 2022 by further funding the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator. ACT is a partnership of agencies led by the World Health Organisation with the objective to provide low and middle-income countries with tests, treatments, vaccines, and personal protective equipment.

    The ACT-Accelerator is pegged to be a US$ 16 billion in grant funding prompted by the belief that there remains a huge vulnerability to COVID-19 as a significant proportion of the global population is still unvaccinated. This investment will allow them to procure essential tools to fight COVID-19 and provide them to low- and middle-income countries.

    The World Health Organisation is calling for the support of higher income countries to overcome disparities in access to COVID-19 tools, especially in middle and low income countries. To argue its view, it says that a mere 0.4 per cent of all testing for COVID-19 done all over the world were administered in low-income countries. The total number of COVID-19 tests worldwide is in excess of 4.7 billion.

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    Further, it says, only 10 per cent of people in low-income countries have received at least one vaccine dose.

    Emergence of more dangerous variants

    The underbelly of the WHO press statement is that there is a risk of the emergence of new, more dangerous variants of COVID-19. The inequities, especially iniquitous access to vaccines can cost lives in such a situation.

    “This massive inequity not only costs lives, it also hurts economies and risks the emergence of new, more dangerous variants that could rob current tools of their effectiveness and set even highly-vaccinated populations back many months.”

    The The ACT-Accelerator, the WHO press release says, will support clinical trials for treatments and vaccines, to help address variants of concern and initiate the development of broadly protective coronavirus vaccines.

    Calling upon the world’s leaders to join the ACT-Accelerator, Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre of Norway said: “What we have learned from this pandemic is that it can’t be fought off by countries working alone. A broad collective effort is required. A fully financed ACT-Accelerator is in the mutual interest of all countries.”

    “No-one is safe until everyone is,” he said.

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