The World Health Organization has called for a new international accord on tackling pandemics, following the emergence of the new Omicron variant of the coronavirus.
During a special session of the World Health Assembly on November 29, WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the new variant “underlines just how perilous and precarious our situation is.”
“Omicron demonstrates just why the world needs a new accord on pandemics,” he said. “Our current system disincentivizes countries from alerting others to threats that will inevitably land on their shores,” he said.
Tedros called on richer nations to commit to vaccine equity in order to bring an end to the pandemic. “More than 80 percent of the world’s vaccines have gone to G20 countries. Low income countries, most of them in Africa, have received just 0.6 percent of all vaccines,” he said. “The longer vaccine inequity persists, the more opportunity this virus has to spread and evolve in ways we cannot predict.”
Tedros also said South Africa and Botswana “should be thanked for detecting and sequencing and reporting this variant, not penalized,” and said it was not yet known whether the variant is associated with more transmissions, severe disease, or vaccine resistance. Credit: World Health Organization via Storyful