Major powers are still failing to fight the pandemic together, World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Friday as the UN agency counted more than 30 million Covid-19 cases around the world.
More than 300,000 new cases were reported in the past 24 hours globally, with India, the United States, Argentina, Brazil and Spain recording the biggest additions.
The WHO has counted 30,055,710 confirmed cases and 943,433 associated deaths.
“Major powers are not working together,” Tedros told a press briefing from Geneva, explaining his main message to world leaders as they are preparing for the annual UN General Assembly that starts next week.
Tedros said he would also appeal to leaders at the General Assembly to fund the 35 billion dollars that are needed to speed up the development of Covid-19 medications and vaccines, under a programme led by the WHO and international health charities.
Despite the rise above the 30-million-mark, WHO officials pointed out that absolute infection numbers tell only part of the story, and that countries can face massive problems even with small numbers, especially in crisis regions.
WHO emergency operations chief Mike Ryan highlighted the plight of Yemen, which has recorded around 2,000 infections with the novel coronavirus and 600 deaths amid a war that involves various regional powers.
People in Yemen are experiencing an extreme humanitarian crisis as they are not only faced with the pandemic, but also with lack of food, a row of other diseases and with a collapsing health system, Ryan said.
Echoing Tedros, Ryan said that there was a price to pay if global leaders do not cooperate to solve a problem. “People in Yemen have been paying that price for years,” he added.
Despite the ongoing crisis, Tedros urged countries to make health investments already now to prepare for the next new disease that is guaranteed to come along in the future.
“There has been a recurring pattern of money being thrown at outbreaks when they’re already in full flow but then funds no longer being available to prevent the next outbreak,” he said.
Spending 4.5 dollars per person across the globe would be enough to get ready for future pandemics, said former WHO chief Gro Harlem Brundtland, who chairs the Global Preparedness Monitoring Board, a WHO and World Bank panel dedicated to gearing up for future health crises.
“You can measure preparedness in billions of dollars, but the cost of a pandemic is in trillions and trillions of dollars,” she told the press conference.
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