Milestones :: Perspectives :: Research
WHO Director-General’s opening remarks at the media briefing on COVID-19 – 8 September 2021
8 September 2021 Speech [Editor’s text bolding]
:: Today, the Democratic Republic of the Congo declared an outbreak of meningitis in the north-eastern Tshopo Province, with 261 suspected cases and 129 deaths reported. Health authorities have deployed an initial emergency team, and WHO is supporting the response.
:: More than 50 thousand people have died with COVID-19 every week since October last year, and for the past month, deaths have remained at almost 70 thousand a week. We have the solutions to stop transmission and save lives. The inequitable distribution of life-saving tools including diagnostics, oxygen, PPE and vaccines is driving a two-track pandemic.
:: Globally, 5.5 billion vaccine doses have now been administered, but 80 percent have been administered in high- and upper-middle income countries. High-income countries have promised to donate more than 1 billion doses, but less than 15 percent of those doses have materialised. Manufacturers have promised to prioritize COVAX and low-income countries. We don’t want any more promises. We just want the vaccines.
:: A month ago, I called for a global moratorium on booster doses at least until the end of September, to prioritise vaccinating the most at-risk people around the world who are yet to receive their first dose. There has been little change in the global situation since then, so today I am calling for an extension of the moratorium until at least the end of the year, to enable every country to vaccinate at least 40 percent of its population.
:: As the world’s largest producers, consumers and donors of vaccines, the world’s 20 leading economies hold the key to vaccine equity and ending the pandemic. Now is the time for true leadership, not empty promises.