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Global increase in Covid-19 cases worries WHO

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has expressed concern over the rising number of Covid-19 cases across the globe, which had been declining in January and February.

Briefing the media last Friday, WHO director-general, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said deaths were however going down though at a slower rate.

“After six weeks of declining cases in January and February, we are now on track for a fourth consecutive week of increasing cases,” decried WHO chief.

“For the moment, the number of deaths is still declining, but at a slower rate. Cases are increasing in most regions. These are worrying trends as we continue to see the impact of variants, opening up of societies and inequitable vaccine rollout.”

Ghebreyesus further said: “While I’m pleased that almost 150 countries have now started vaccinating, we still face serious barriers in ramping up production and distribution.

He said although most of the eastern Caribbean countries have succeeded in preventing large numbers of infections and deaths, their economies, which rely heavily on tourism, have been decimated.

Ghebreyesus said he was considering meeting with the director-general of the World Trade Organization, to discuss how barriers faced in boosting vaccine production can be overcome.

“Vaccine equity is particularly important in cities, especially where people live in crowded conditions and the risks of transmission are high,” he said.

“Cities are places where health can either be nourished or destroyed.”

Meanwhile, WHO’s Global Advisory Committee on Vaccine Safety met last week to review the data on blood clots and low platelets among some people who received the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.

The committee concluded that the available data do not suggest an overall increase in clotting conditions following the administration of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.

“As a result, the committee has recommended that the AstraZeneca vaccine’s benefits outweigh its risks, with tremendous potential for preventing infections and deaths from Covid-19,” explained Ghebreyesus.

“The committee’s full statement is available on the WHO website and has been sent to the media.

We understand that people may have had concerns about the safety of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. The question with any pharmaceutical or vaccine is whether the risk of taking it is greater or less than the risk of the disease it is meant to prevent or treat. In this case, there is no question. Covid-19 is a deadly disease and the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine can prevent it.”

He added: “It’s also important to remember that Covid-19 itself can cause blood clots and low platelets. We urge countries to continue using this important vaccine. The AstraZeneca vaccine is especially important because it accounts for more than 90% of the vaccines being distributed through COVAX.”

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