WHO / COVID-19 UPDATE

06-Jan-2022 00:05:08
The Head of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said, “vaccine inequity and health inequity overall were the biggest failures” of 2021, stressing that to end the acute stage of the COVID-19 pandemic, scientific tools “need to be shared fairly and quickly with all countries of the world.” WHO
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STORY: WHO / COVID-19 UPDATE
TRT: 06:05
SOURCE: WHO
RESTRICTIONS: NONE
LANGUAGE: ENGLISH / NATS

DATELINE: 06 JANUARY 2022, GENEVA, SWITZERLAND / FILE
SHOTLIST
1. Wide shot, press briefing room
2. SOUNDBITE (English) Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General, World Health Organization (WHO):
"To end the acute stage of the pandemic, the highly effective tools science has given us need to be shared fairly and quickly with all countries of the world. Vaccine inequity and health inequity overall were the biggest failures of last year. While some countries have had enough personal protective equipment, tests, and vaccines to stockpile throughout this pandemic, many countries do not have enough to meet basic baseline needs or modest targets, which no rich country would have been satisfied with. Vaccine inequity is a killer of people and jobs and it undermines a global economic recovery."
3. Wide shot, press briefing room
4. SOUNDBITE (English) Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General, World Health Organization (WHO):
"Last week, the highest number of COVID-19 cases were reported so far in the pandemic. And we know, for certain, that this is an underestimate of cases because reported numbers do not reflect the backlog of testing around the holidays, the number of positive self-tests not registered, and burdened surveillance systems that miss cases around the word. While Omicron does appear to be less severe compared to Delta, especially in those vaccinated, it does not mean it should be categorised as ‘mild’."
5. Wide shot, press briefing room
6. SOUNDBITE (English) Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General, World Health Organization (WHO):
"Just like previous variants; Omicron is hospitalising people, and it is killing people. In fact, the tsunami of cases is so huge and quick, that it is overwhelming health systems around the world. Hospitals are becoming overcrowded and understaffed, which further results in preventable deaths from not only COVID-19 but other diseases and injuries where patients cannot receive timely care. First-generation vaccines may not stop all infections and transmission, but they remain highly effective in reducing hospitalisation and death from this virus."
7. Wide shot, press briefing room
8. SOUNDBITE (English Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, COVID-19 Technical lead, Health Emergencies Programme, World Health Organization (WHO):
"Having the contacts of confirmed cases being put in quarantine or quarantining at home is really critical to prevent the onward spread. Now we know that that is very difficult to do. We know that that takes effort. People need to be able to not work and be supported and not work, be supported in quarantine, to make sure that they can provide for their family, that they have food, et cetera, et cetera. And that is not a small matter. "
9. Wide shot, press briefing room
10. SOUNDBITE (English) Dr Mike Ryan, Executive Director, Health Emergencies Programme, World Health Organization (WHO):
"For every day you reduce the quarantine, a small proportion of people will go on to develop symptoms and potentially infect others. You could say that's 14 days or 40 days, and you can go into a very long period. So, this is a trade-off. The science gives you a range and that range peaks, I think, at about five or six days and then falls off exponentially. So based on a country's need, based on the economy, based on the availability of teachers, health workers and others, based on the ability of the availability of tests, countries have flexibility within that to set the periods of quarantine that meet their goals."
11. Wide shot, press briefing room
12. SOUNDBITE (English) Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General, World Health Organization (WHO):
"In Ethiopia, WHO was able to dispatch 14 metric tonnes of medical supplies to Afar and 70 metric tonnes to Amhara in December. In Tigray, WHO has not been permitted to deliver medical supplies since mid-July of last year. This is despite repeated requests from WHO to provide medical supplies to the region, which would help meet some of the humanitarian and health needs in Tigray. Even in the toughest periods of conflict in Syria, South Sudan, Yemen and others, WHO and partners have had access to save lives. However, in Tigray the de facto blockade is preventing access to humanitarian supplies, which is killing people."
13. Wide shot, press briefing room
STORYLINE
The Head of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, today (6 Jan) said, “vaccine inequity and health inequity overall were the biggest failures” of 2021, stressing that to end the acute stage of the COVID-19 pandemic, scientific tools “need to be shared fairly and quickly with all countries of the world.”

Talking to reporters from Geneva, Tedros said, “while some countries have had enough personal protective equipment, tests and vaccines to stockpile throughout this pandemic, many countries do not have enough to meet basic baseline needs or modest targets, which no rich country would have been satisfied with.”

He said, “vaccine inequity is a killer of people and jobs and it undermines a global economic recovery."

The WHO Director-General noted that “while Omicron does appear to be less severe compared to Delta, especially in those vaccinated, it does not mean it should be categorised as mild’."

Just like previous variants, he said, Omicron “is hospitalising people and it is killing people,” and “is overwhelming health systems around the world.”

He reiterated that “first-generation vaccines may not stop all infections and transmission, but they remain highly effective in reducing hospitalisation and death from this virus."

The WHO’s COVID-19 Technical lead, Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, said, “having the contacts of confirmed cases being put in quarantine or quarantining at home is really critical to prevent the onward spread. Now we know that that is very difficult to do. We know that that takes effort. People need to be able to not work and be supported and not work, be supported in quarantine, to make sure that they can provide for their family, that they have food, et cetera, et cetera. And that is not a small matter. "

For his part, the WHO’s Health Emergencies Programme Executive Director,
Dr Mike Ryan, explained that "for every day you reduce the quarantine, a small proportion of people will go on to develop symptoms and potentially infect others.”

Ryan said, “you could say that's 14 days or 40 days, and you can go into a very long period. So, this is a trade-off. The science gives you a range and that range peaks, I think, at about five or six days and then falls off exponentially. So based on a country's need, based on the economy, based on the availability of teachers, health workers and others, based on the ability of the availability of tests, countries have flexibility within that to set the periods of quarantine that meet their goals."

Turning to the humanitarian situation in Ethiopia, Tedros said the WHO “was able to dispatch 14 metric tonnes of medical supplies to Afar and 70 metric tonnes to Amhara in December.”

In Tigray, he said, “WHO has not been permitted to deliver medical supplies since mid-July of last year.”

Tedros, who is Ethiopian and has served both as Minister of Health and Minister of Foreign Affairs, said, “this is despite repeated requests from WHO to provide medical supplies to the region, which would help meet some of the humanitarian and health needs in Tigray. Even in the toughest periods of conflict in Syria, South Sudan, Yemen and others, WHO and partners have had access to save lives. However, in Tigray the de facto blockade is preventing access to humanitarian supplies, which is killing people."

In November 2020, heavy fighting between central Government troops and those loyal to the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) have left Ethiopia’s northern regions of Tigray, Amhara and Afar in dire need of humanitarian assistance.

And after months of killings, looting and destruction of health centres and farming infrastructure, including irrigation systems that are vital to the production effort, those needs have only surged.

Currently, some seven million people throughout the country are suffering acute food insecurity.
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