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June 16, 2021

COVID spreading faster than global distribution of vaccines: WHO

LONDON: The global spread of COVID-19 is moving faster than the global distribution of vaccines, World Health Organization officials said the other day, foreign media reported.

They attributed transmission rates to new variants, such as Alpha and Delta, which have been shown to be more contagious.

"That means the risks have increased for people who are not protected, which is most of the world's population," Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the WHO, said during a press briefing.

While the number of new cases of the virus continues to decline worldwide, the number of deaths has not been declining at the same rate, he said. More than 3.8 million people have died from COVID across the world since the beginning of the pandemic.

The number of new cases has declined for seven weeks in a row, the longest streak of declines the world has seen since the beginning of the pandemic. But the number of deaths reported this week is still similar to those reported last week, he said.

"While weekly cases are at their lowest since February, deaths are not falling as quickly," Tedros said. "The global decline masks a worrying increase in cases and deaths in many countries."

Countries in Africa are experiencing higher mortality rates among those suffering from Covid than other countries, he said. The higher mortality rates are especially concerning because African countries have reported fewer cases than most other regions.

African countries also have the least access to vaccines, diagnostics and oxygen supplies, highlighting the effects of medical inequity that global health officials have warned about.

"There are enough doses of vaccines globally to drive down transmission and save many lives if they're used in the right places for the right people,” Tedros said.

The G-7 countries have pledged distribution of 870 million vaccine doses around the world, but the WHO says more are needed.