Battle to Finish Virus Pandemic Takes Place on UN’s Sidelines

By PIA SARKAR, Associated Press

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — In 4 days of fiery speeches over struggle, local weather change and the specter of nuclear weapons, one subject felt like an afterthought throughout this yr’s U.N. General Assembly: the coronavirus pandemic.

Masks have been usually pulled beneath chins — or not worn in any respect — and any point out of COVID-19 by world leaders usually got here on the tail-end of a protracted checklist of grievances.

But on the sidelines of the annual assembly, the pandemic was nonetheless very a lot a part of the dialog.

On Thursday, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres gathered with World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell and others to debate equitable entry to COVID vaccines, assessments and coverings.

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And earlier that day, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield joined leaders from across the globe to mark the progress that has been made to battle COVID-19 — together with the greater than 620 million vaccine doses to 116 nations and economies that the United States has offered. But she emphasised there’s nonetheless a lot work to do.

Tedros famous that the variety of deaths across the globe is close to its lowest because the pandemic started, and two-thirds of the world’s inhabitants is vaccinated. But the encouraging indicators masks a deep disparity between rich and poor nations.

For occasion, solely 19% of individuals residing in low-income nations are totally vaccinated in contrast with 75% in high-income nations. And solely 35% of well being care employees and 31% of older populations in lower-income nations are totally vaccinated and boosted.

Key to closing these gaps, in line with Guterres, is countering misinformation about vaccines and overcoming hesitancy whereas additionally growing testing to snuff out the potential for extra variants. The world additionally wants early warning methods for pandemics and should guarantee a well-paid and well-supplied workforce within the well being care sector.

“Let’s get it carried out,” Guterres stated. “Let’s finish this pandemic as soon as and for all.”

Thomas-Greenfield stated that COVID-19 care must be shifted from being supplied primarily in emergency amenities to integrating it in routine companies.

She outlined three new initiatives: a pilot program to be launched in 10 nations to assist individuals get screened for COVID-19 and obtain antiviral drugs; a $50 million dedication from the U.S to enhance entry to medical oxygen crucial for treating sufferers with extreme instances; and a worldwide clearinghouse to make medical provide chains extra resilient, environment friendly and equitable.

While few would argue that the scenario has not improved — and certainly U.S. President Joe Biden not too long ago remarked that the pandemic was over earlier than strolling again his feedback — nobody on Thursday was able to name it quits.

“A marathon runner doesn’t cease when the end line comes into view,” Tedros stated, and as an alternative runs tougher to get to the top.

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