Tag: WHO

WHO Announces Guidance Updates to Treatment of Drug-resistant TB

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The World Health Organization (WHO) Global Tuberculosis Programme has announced upcoming updates to the guidance on the treatment of drug-resistant tuberculosis (DR-TB). These updates are announced in a Rapid Communication and include shorter novel 6-month all-oral regimens for the treatment of multidrug- and rifampicin-resistant TB (MDR/RR-TB), with or without additional resistance to fluoroquinolones (pre-XDR-TB), and also an alternative 9-month all-oral regimen for the treatment of MDR/RR-TB.

The Rapid Communication is released ahead of updated WHO consolidated guidelines to come later in the year which will inform national programmes and stakeholders.

Dr Tereza Kasaeva, Director of WHO’s Global TB Programme said: “We now have more and much better treatment options for people with drug-resistant TB thanks to research generating new evidence. This is major progress compared to what was available even a few years ago, and will be of great benefit for people struggling with TB and drug-resistant TB, resulting in better outcomes, saving lives and reducing suffering.”

All patients with MDR/RR-TB, including those with additional resistance to fluoroquinolones, stand to benefit from effective all-oral treatment regimens, either shorter or longer, implemented under programmatic conditions.

The summary of the updates are as follows:

The 6-month BPaLM regimen, comprising bedaquiline, pretomanid, linezolid (600 mg) and moxifloxacin, may be used programmatically in place of 9-month or longer (>18 months) regimens, in patients (aged ≥ 15 years) with MDR/RR-TB who have not had previous exposure to bedaquiline, pretomanid and linezolid (defined as > 1 month exposure). This regimen may be used without moxifloxacin (BPaL) in the case of documented resistance to fluoroquinolones (in patients with pre-XDR-TB). Drug susceptibility testing (DST) to fluoroquinolones is strongly encouraged, but DST should not delay treatment initiation.

The 9-month, all-oral, bedaquiline-containing regimens are preferred over the longer (>18 months) regimen in adults and children with MDR/RR-TB, without previous exposure to second-line treatment (including bedaquiline), without fluoroquinolone resistance and with no extensive pulmonary TB disease or severe extrapulmonary TB. In these regimens, 2 months of linezolid (600 mg) can be used as an alternative to 4 months of ethionamide. Access to rapid DST for ruling out fluoroquinolone resistance is required before starting a patient on one of these regimens.

Patients with extensive forms of DR-TB (eg XDR-TB4) or those who are not eligible for or have failed shorter treatment regimens will benefit from an individualised longer regimen designed using the priority grouping of medicines recommended in current WHO guidelines.6

Decisions on appropriate regimens should be made according to clinical judgement and patient preference, considering results of DST, patient treatment history, risk of adverse events, and severity and site of the disease.

All treatment should be delivered under WHO-recommended standards, including patient-centred care and support, informed consent where necessary, principles of good clinical practice, active drug safety monitoring and management, and regular monitoring of patients and of drug resistance to assess regimen effectiveness.

The full details of the regimens included in the review are available in the Rapid Communication.

Source: World Health Organization

WHO Panel Recommends Paxlovid for at-Risk Mild COVID

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Pfizer’s oral antiviral Paxlovid (nirmatrelvir/ritonavir) is strongly recommended for patients with non-severe COVID with greater hospitalisation risk, such as unvaccinated, older, or immunosuppressed patients, according to a WHO Guideline Development Group writing in The BMJ

The experts explained that Pfizer’s Paxlovid, a comnbination of nirmatrelvir and ritonavir tablets, is likely a better choice for these patients because it may prevent more hospitalisations than the alternatives, is safer than molnupiravir, and is easier to administer than intravenous options such as remdesivir and antibody treatments. 

Use in low-risk patients is not recommended due to trivial benefits. It is also not recommended for patients with severe or critical COVID, as there are currently no trial data on nirmatrelvir/ritonavir for this group.

Their recommendation is based on new data from two randomised controlled trials with 3100 patients.

In these trials, moderate certainty evidence showed that nirmatrelvir/ritonavir reduced hospital admission (84 fewer admissions per 1000 patients), low certainty evidence suggested no important difference in mortality, and high certainty evidence suggested little or no risk of adverse effects leading to drug discontinuation.

Additionally, WHO also makes a conditional (weak) recommendation to use the antiviral drug remdesivir for patients with non-severe COVID at highest risk of hospitalisation.

This is based on new data from five randomised controlled trials involving 2700 patients and replaces a previous recommendation against treatment with remdesivir in all patients with covid-19 regardless of disease severity.

Antiviral drugs should be administered as early as possible, but this may be challenging in low- and middle-income countries, the panel noted, and also that access to these drugs is tied to COVID tests.

The emergence of resistance is also an uncertain risk, they add.

This guidance adds to previous conditional recommendations for the use of molnupiravir for high-risk patients with non-severe COVID and for the use of sotrovimab or casirivimab-imdevimab (monoclonal antibody treatments) in selected patients; and against the use of convalescent plasma, ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine in patients with COVID regardless of disease severity. For patients with severe COVID, WHO strongly recommends corticosteroids, with the addition of IL-6 receptor blockers or baricitinib.

Source: EurekAlert!

WHO Condemns Attacks on Hospitals in Ukraine

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On Sunday 13 March, the World Health Organization released a statement condemning recent attacks on hospitals and other healthcare facilities in Ukraine, which it called “horrific”. It also called for an immediate end of all such attacks, which are killing and injuring both patients and health care workers, as well as threatening vital health services.

“To attack the most vulnerable – babies, children, pregnant women, and those already suffering from illness and disease, and health workers risking their own lives to save lives – is an act of unconscionable cruelty,” the organisation said.

WHO’s Surveillance System for Attacks on Health Care (SSA) has documented 31 attacks on health care since the outset of the war that started with the Russian invasion on 24 February, now in its third week. These include 24 incidents of damage to or destruction of health care facilities, and five cases of ambulances.

In one incident, a maternity hospital was hit by a Russian air strike, causing three deaths including a child.

There have been 12 deaths and 34 injuries as a result of these attacks, and impaired access to and availability of essential health services, the WHO stated. Since attacks are ongoing, this is expected to continue.

The organisation also stresses that such attacks also directly impact the needs of vulnerable groups, and the health care needs of pregnant women, new mothers, younger children and older people inside Ukraine are rising even as violence curtails health care access.

“For example, more than 4,300 births have occurred in Ukraine since the start of war and 80 000 Ukrainian women are expected to give birth in next three months. Oxygen and medical supplies, including for the management of pregnancy complications, are running dangerously low,” the WHO statement read. WHO warned that Ukraine’s health care system is “clearly under significant strain” and a collapse would be a “catastrophe”. It stresses that “every effort must be made” to prevent this.

“International humanitarian and human rights law must be upheld, and the protection of civilians must be our top priority.

They call for international humanitarian and human rights laws to be upheld, with the protection of civilians as a top priority. Aid and health care workers must be able to continue and strengthen service delivery, and health services should be provided at border crossing, to provide prompt care and referral for children and pregnant people. Care should be unimpeded, with access to civilians in all areas of the conflict, and health care and services should be protected from attacks.

WHO stated that, in the wake of COVID’s huge strain, “such attacks have the potential to be even more devastating for the civilian population.” As such, it called for an urgent ceasefire.

“Finally, we call for an immediate ceasefire, which includes unhindered access so that people in need can access humanitarian assistance. A peaceful resolution to end the war in Ukraine is possible.”

Source: World Health Organization

Hospitals in Ukraine Face Oxygen Shortage, MSF Suspends Operations

Supplies of medical oxygen in Ukraine are dangerously low due to disruption caused by the Russian invasion, the World Health Organization has warned.

Due to the crisis, the WHO estimates that the country needs an additional 20–25% increase in oxygen supplies over and above its normal needs. As it currently stands, the transport of oxygen cylinders across the country is being disrupted, especially into the capital Kyiv. As of 27 February, many hospitals across the country, including in Kyiv, had less than 24 hours’ supply remaining.

Furthermore, oxygen production facilities are experiencing shortages of zeolite, which is needed for the safe production of oxygen in the pressure swing absorption process

Prior to the conflict, the WHO had worked with Ukraine to improve its oxygen supply infrastructure, especially during the COVID pandemic. “Of the over 600 health facilities nationwide assessed by WHO during the pandemic, close to half were directly supported with supplies, technical know-how and infrastructure investments, enabling health authorities to save tens of thousands of lives,” the WHO said. This progress is threatening to be undone.

“Compounding the risk to patients, critical hospital services are also being jeopardised by electricity and power shortages, and ambulances transporting patients are in danger of getting caught in the crossfire,” the WHO said in its press release.

To offset this, the WHO is working through regional networks to bring in oxygen, as well as providing trauma treatment supplies. These would be brought in through a safe logistics corridor in Poland.

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has announced that it is suspending activities in Ukraine. “These included care for people living with HIV in Severodonetsk; care for patients with tuberculosis in Zhytomyr; and improving access to healthcare access in Donetsk, in eastern Ukraine, where we have been providing much-needed healthcare, including for mental health, to conflict-affected communities,” the organisation said in an announcement.

However, it is working to ensure some continuity of its operations, and are working to provide trauma training to certain hospitals and have provided some trauma supplies.

The Ukrainian capital of Kyiv has also put out a call for donations of medicines, such as the antiviral amixin, the antibiotic nifuroxazide and the haemostatic agent aminocaproic acid.

Source: World Health Organization

ICD-11 Comes into Effect

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The World Health Organization (WHO) has announced that the Eleventh Revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11) has now come into effect, with the latest update going online on Friday, 11th February.

Compared with previous versions, ICD-11 is entirely digital with a new user-friendly format and multilingual capabilities that reduce the chance of error. It has been compiled and updated with input from over 90 countries and unprecedented involvement of health-care providers, enabling evolution from a system imposed on clinicians into a truly enabling clinical classification and terminology database that serves a broad range of uses for recording and reporting statistics on health. It also allows entries to appear in multiple categories: for example, stroke appears under both the cardiovascular and neurological categories.

“International classification of diseases is the cornerstone of a robust health information system”, said Dr Samira Asma, the Assistant Director-General for Data, Analytics and Delivery for Impact at the World Health Organization (WHO). “ICD has been instrumental in helping us respond to the COVID pandemic using standardised data and continues to be crucial for tracking progress towards universal health coverage. We hope all countries will take advantage of ICD-11’s powerful new features.”

Among other updates, ICD-11 improves the clarity of terms for the general public and facilitates the coding of important details such as the spread of a cancer or the exact site and type of a fracture. The new version also includes updated diagnostic recommendations for mental health conditions and digital documentation of COVID certificates.

These updates reflect recent progress in medicine and advances in scientific understanding. For example, codes relating to antimicrobial resistance are now aligned with the Global Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance System (GLASS). ICD-11 is also more capable of capturing data on health-care safety, thus identifying and reducing unnecessary events that may harm health such as unsafe workflows in hospitals.

ICD is used by health insurers who make reimbursement decisions on the basis of ICD coding, by national health programme managers, by data collection specialists, and by anyone who tracks progress in global health and determines health resource allocation.

“A key principle in this revision was to simplify the coding and provide users with all necessary electronic tooling – this will allow health-care professionals to more easily and completely record conditions,” says Dr Robert Jakob, Team Lead, Classifications Terminologies and Standards, WHO.

In addition to coding and capability updates, ICD-11 includes new chapters on traditional medicine, sexual health, and gaming disorder – which has now been added to the section on addictive disorders.

ICD-11 was adopted at the World Health Assembly in May 2019 and Member States committed to start using it for mortality and morbidity reporting in 2022. Since 2019, early adopter countries, translators, and scientific groups have recommended further refinements to produce the version that is posted online today.

Source: World Health Organization

South African Biotech Company Replicates Moderna Vaccine

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Afrigen Biologics and Vaccines, a South African biotechnology company, has nearly created a copy of Moderna’s COVID mRNA vaccine, without Moderna’s involvement, Nature reports.

The Cape Town-based company has so far made only microlitres of the vaccine, based on Moderna’s publicly available development data. This nevertheless is a success for a major initiative launched by the World Health Organization (WHO): a technology transfer hub meant to build vaccine manufacturing capacity in low- and middle-income countries.

During the COVID pandemic, the developers of mRNA vaccines, Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech have sent more than 70% of their doses to wealthy nations. Meanwhile, millions of vaccine orders for southern hemisphere countries have been delayed. “Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccines are mainly still going to just the richest countries,” says Martin Friede, the WHO official coordinating the hub. “Our objective is to empower other countries to make their own.”

Much work needs to be done before Afrigen’s mRNA vaccine mimic can be distributed. But the WHO hopes that the process of creating it will lay the foundation for a more globally distributed mRNA vaccine industry in the future.

Gerhardt Boukes, chief scientist at Afrigen is proud to have helped complete this first step of the plan. Afrigen and its collaborators completed the process, beginning with mRNA encoding a modified portion of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, and finishing by encapsulating it in a lipid nanoparticle that delivers the vaccine to cells. “We didn’t have help from the major COVID vaccine producers,” he says, “so we did it ourselves to show the world that it can be done, and be done here, on the African continent.”

When the mRNA hub was launched by the WHO in June 2021, Moderna, Pfizer and BioNTech did not respond to requests to help make their vaccines, so the WHO proceeded without their help. The Moderna vaccine was chosen to copy because there is more freely available data on it, and it has not vowed to enforce its patents.

The project started in late September, with a Wits University team spearheading the first step: making a DNA molecule that would serve as a template to synthesise the mRNA needed in the vaccine. While Moderna controversially patented this sequence, Stanford University researchers had deposited it into the online database Virological.org in March last year.

Patrick Arbuthnot, director of gene therapy research at Wits says, “We were not intimidated, because mRNA synthesis is a fairly generic procedure.” Despite delays in the shipment of raw materials, the team completed this process in ten weeks and sent vials of mRNA to Afrigen in early December.

Around this time, scientists worldwide emailed offers of assistance. Some were researchers at the US National Institutes of Health who had conducted foundational work on mRNA vaccines. Petro Terblanche, Afrigen’s managing director, said that it was “extraordinary”. “I think a lot of scientists were disillusioned with what had happened with vaccine distribution, and they wanted to help get the world out of this dilemma.”

On 5 January, Afrigen’s researchers accomplished another tricky part of the process: They encapsulated the mRNA in a fatty nanoparticle made of a mixture of lipids. Boukes says they haven’t yet used Moderna’s specific lipid mixture, but rather another one that was immediately available from the manufacturer of the machine that the laboratory uses to create lipid nanoparticles. They plan to use Moderna’s lipid mixture in the coming days, as soon as one last analytical instrument arrives. After that, the team will analyse the formulation to ensure that it is truly a near copy of Moderna’s vaccine.

Once a reliable copy is made, the next step is increasing production. Jason McLellan, a structural biologist at the University of Texas at Austin whose work was foundational to the development of several COVID vaccines, says he is not surprised that SA scientists seem to have copied Moderna’s vaccine, but he adds that scaling up production of that original shot required a lot of additional innovation by manufacturers.

For the next phase of the project, several southern hemisphere companies will learn from Afrigen and attempt to create batches of vaccines themselves, in preparation for animal testing. By end November, the WHO expects a Moderna clone to be ready for phase I trials in humans.

What happens beyond that is unclear. Moderna might choose to license its patent (lab research is usually not subject to patent rules), or alternatives may become available, such as next-generation mRNA vaccines that do not require ultracold storage.

Source: Nature

WHO Criticises Omicron Travel Bans as SA Stays at Level 1

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The emergence of the Omicron SARS-CoV-2 variant which has resulted in renewed lockdowns and travel bans around the world, which have been criticised by the WHO. In contrast, South Africa will stick to an adjusted Level 1 lockdown for the time being, though pushing for mandatory vaccinations. Business and civil society groups had warned that increasing restrictions would have provoked backlash as recent election campaign events had effectively ignored them.

Many nations around the world have reacted quickly to the new variant, which has a large number of mutations compared to the Delta variant. The UK’s decision to suspend flights from South Africa as well as nine other African countries has provoked criticism from a number of quarters, including President Cyril Ramaphosa. The sudden move has caught many travellers by surprise, including a Welsh rugby team which had two members test positive, one of which was for Omicron. They will have to self-isolate before they are able to return, depending on flight availability.

Japan and Israel have taken the more extreme steps of closing their borders to foreigners. The first cases of Omicron that were recorded in Botswana were revealed to be in visiting diplomats, although which country they came from has not been revealed. 

The World Health Organization criticised the imposition of travel restrictions, acknowledging that although they may play a role in slightly reducing the spread of COVID, they still place a heavy burden on lives and livelihoods. It pointed out that if restrictions are implemented, they should not be unnecessarily invasive or intrusive, and should be scientifically based, under international law, the International Health Regulations. It notes South Africa followed International Health Regulations, and informed WHO as soon as its national laboratory identified the Omicron variant. 

“The speed and transparency of the South African and Botswana governments in informing the world of the new variant is to be commended. WHO stands with African countries which had the courage to boldly share life-saving public health information, helping protect the world against the spread of COVID,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa. “On the eve of a special session on pandemic preparedness I urge all countries to respect their legal obligations and implement scientifically based public health actions. It is critical that countries which are open with their data are supported as this is the only way to ensure we receive important data in a timely manner.”

Although a full picture of the new variant’s severity is still two or three weeks away, Angelique Coetzee, chair of the South African Medical Association, told the AFP she had recently seen around 30 patients at her Pretoria practice who tested positive for COVID but had unfamiliar symptoms.

“What brought them to the surgery was this extreme tiredness,” she said, something she said was unusual for younger patients. Most were men under 40, and just under half were vaccinated. Other symptoms included mild muscle aches, a “scratchy throat” and dry cough, she said. Just a few had a slightly high temperature. These very mild symptoms stand in contrast to other variants, which typically result in more severe symptoms.

WHO Predicts Shortfall in Syringe Production

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The World Health Organization has said that with the goal of two COVID vaccine doses for seven billion people between now and 2023, a shortage of at least one billion syringes “could occur”, if manufacturing does not increase. This could endanger other immunisation programmes.

Lisa Hedman, WHO Senior Advisor, from the Access to Medicines and Health Products division, warned that there could be a generation of children who miss scheduled immunisation jabs unless manufacturers come up with a way to make more single-use disposable syringes.

“When you think about the magnitude of the number of injections being given to respond to the pandemic, this is not a place where we can afford shortcuts, shortages or anything short of full safety for patients and healthcare staff,” said the WHO expert.

She told media that more than 6.8 billion doses of COVID vaccines are being administered globally per year – nearly twice the yearly number for routine inoculations.

“A shortage of syringes is unfortunately a real possibility and here’s some more numbers. That [given] the global manufacturing capacity of around six billion a year for immunisation syringes it’s pretty clear that a deficit in 2022 of over a billion could happen if we continue with business as usual.”

Reuse of syringes was inadvisable, also noting that syringes were particularly prone to transport delays because they took up 10 times the space of a vaccine.

Meanwhile, the heads of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank Group, WHO and the World Trade Organization (WTO) held a follow up session of High-Level Consultations with the CEOs of leading COVID vaccine manufacturing companies on Tuesday.

All participants at the meeting agreed on the urgency of increased vaccine dose delivery to low-income countries, where less than 2.5% of the population has been fully vaccinated.

The meeting’s aim was to identify how to ensure more equitable distribution of vaccines and all participants pledged to continue working together to clarify donations, vaccine swaps and delivery schedules, so that distribution of the life-saving vaccines can be more effectively targeted towards needy countries.

The meeting of the Multilateral Leaders Task Force on COVID-19 built on technical work undertaken by multidisciplinary teams during the months of September and October.

During the consultations, the leaders of the four organisations and the CEOs also examined how best to tackle trade-related bottlenecks; how to improve the donation process; what additional steps are needed to reach the vaccination target of 40% of people in all countries by the end of the year; and how to improve transparency and data sharing with the IMF-WHO Vaccine Supply Forecast Dashboard and the Multilateral Leaders Task Force.

The effort will require close collaboration between manufacturers, governments and the international COVAX initiative, on enhanced delivery schedules, especially for doses that are being donated.

Source: UN News

UN Urges Group B Streptococcus Vaccine to Protect Babies

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There is an urgent need for vaccines against Group B streptococcus, a major cause of preterm births, disability and infant mortality worldwide, according to a UN-backed report published on Wednesday.

Group B streptococcus (GBS) is a gram-positive bacteria that colonises the gastrointestinal and genitourinary tract. It can be transmitted in utero, is linked to around 150 000 infant deaths each year, more than half a million preterm births and significant long-term disability.

The report by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) updates 2017 estimates, and reveals that the global burden of GBS is far higher than was previously recognised.

“This new research shows that Group B strep is a major and underappreciated threat to newborn survival and wellbeing, bringing devastating impacts for so many families globally,” said Dr Phillipp Lambach, Medical Officer from WHO’s Immunization, Vaccines and Biologicals department.

The report is the first to quantify the major contribution of GBS to preterm births, and to neurological impairments such as cerebral palsy, hearing and vision loss, that can occur following infection.

Around 15% of all pregnant women worldwide, nearly 20 million annually, carry the GBS bacterium in their vagina, which can then spread to a foetus, or to newborns during labour. At present, GBS disease prevention in newborns is by administering antibiotic prophylaxis to women during labour, if the bacterium is detected during pregnancy.

However, significant health risks remain, as this intervention is unlikely to prevent most GBS-associated stillbirths, preterm births, or GBS disease that occurs later after birth.

“It is difficult to describe the breadth or depth of the grief when your child dies, or the accompanying guilt, and how it changes you, your family, and your relationships forever,” said Debbie Forwood, whose daughter Ada was stillborn after she developed a GBS infection.

Vaccine development urged
GBS burden is highest in low and middle-income countries, where screening and treatment are most challenging to implement, with regions such as sub-Saharan Africa having the highest rates of maternal GBS.
Now is the time for action, said Joy Lawn, an LSHTM Professor who contributed to the report.  While several candidate GBS vaccines are in development, none are yet available despite decades in the pipeline. The report calls for stepping up development of an effective GBS vaccine that could be administered to expectant mothers during routine pregnancy checkups.

The partners estimate more than 50 000 GBS-related deaths, and over 170 000 pre-term births, could be avoided if over 70 per cent of pregnant women were vaccinated.

Such protection could also be highly cost-effective, they added.  Net benefits from a year of maternal vaccinations could reach as high as $17 billion, accruing over several years, provided doses are affordably priced. For Ms. Forwood, this would be a bittersweet development.

“Only a GBS vaccine could have saved Ada.  When a vaccine can be widely rolled out, I will weep and scream with the unfairness that it came too late for her, and for all the other babies who are needlessly suffering and dying every year that it is delayed,” she said.

“But I will also weep with joy that in the future, many more will live, and their families will be saved from the living hell that is the death of a child.”

Source: UN News

Up to 180 000 Health Workers may Have Died from COVID

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Between 80 000 and 180 000 health and care workers (HCWs) are estimated to have died from COVID between January 2020 and May 2021, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday.

That grim estimate features in a new WHO working paper based on the 3.45 million coronavirus-related deaths reported globally to the UN health agency up to May. The WHO warns it may well be an underestimate of 60%. To highlight the need for better protection, WHO was joined by global partners working to end the pandemic, to issue an urgent call for concrete action on behalf of workers in the sector.  

WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said that “the backbone of every health system is its workforce.”

“COVID-19 is a powerful demonstration of just how much we rely on these men and women, and how vulnerable we all are when the people who protect our health are themselves unprotected”, he added.  

WHO and partners said that besides the deaths, more and more HCWs are suffering from burnout, stress, anxiety and fatigue. They are urging  equitable access to vaccines so that HCWs are prioritised.  

By the end of last month, on average, two in five HCWs were fully vaccinated, but with considerable differences across regions.

“In Africa, less than one in ten health workers have been fully vaccinated. Meanwhile, in most high-income countries, more than 80% of health workers are fully vaccinated”, Dr Ghebreyesus pointed out.  

For him, over 10 months since the approval of the first vaccines, “the fact that millions of health workers still haven’t been vaccinated is an indictment on the countries and companies that control the global supply of vaccines”.

Currently, 82 nations risk missing the target of vaccinating 40% of their population by year end, and 75% of those countries are faced with insufficient supply. The remainder have some limitations that WHO is helping solve.

Speaking to journalists via videolink, Gordon Brown, former UK Prime Minister and currently WHO’s Ambassador for Global Health Financing, said it would be a “moral catastrophe of historic proportions” if G20 countries cannot act quickly.

These nations have pledged to donate more than 1.2 billion vaccine doses to COVAX. According to WHO, so far, only 150 million have been delivered.  

With wealthy countries stockpiling millions of unused doses, close to expiration, Brown said they should start an “immediate, massive, concerted” airlift of vaccines to low income countries.  

If they do not, he argued, they will be guilty of an “economic dereliction of duty that will shame us all.”  

Brown also warned that “the longer vaccine inequity exists, the longer the virus will be present.”

Source: UN News