The World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned against complacency in the fight against Covid-19 at a time when some countries have since begun vaccinating their populations against the pandemic which has infected and claimed many lives.
To date, over 115 million people across the globe have contracted coronavirus, with more than 2.5 million of them having succumbed to it while above 65 million have since recovered.
In Zimbabwe, at least 36 000 have been infected, 33 000 of whom have recovered while over 1 400 have since died from Covid-19 related complications.
A number of countries across the globe, Zimbabwe included, are already immunising their citizens against Covid-19 with priority given to frontline personnel such as health workers, security forces, immigration, customs and others.
Briefing the media this week on publication of first round of Covid-19 vaccine allocations through COVAX, a donor funded facility ensuring vaccines reach all corners of the world including the poorest countries, WHO director-general, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, warned against complacency.
“We must also remember that although vaccines are a powerful tool, they are not the only tool,” said the WHO chief.
Ghebreyesus said when the Covid-19 pandemic erupted last year, WHO knew that vaccines would be a vital tool in bringing it under control.
“But we also knew from our experience with HIV, the H1N1 pandemic and other diseases that market forces alone would not deliver the equitable distribution of vaccines,” he said.
“That’s why in April last year we established the Access to Covid-19 Tools Accelerator, which includes the COVAX vaccines pillar, a partnership between Gavi, CEPI, UNICEF, WHO and others. When the history of the pandemic is written, I believe that the ACT Accelerator and COVAX will be one of its standout successes.”
Last week Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire became the first African countries to receive doses through COVAX while on March 1 Colombia became the first country in the Americas to receive its COVAX deliveries.
Other countries that have received their supplies include Angola, Cambodia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Nigeria, Kenya and Rwanda.
“In total, COVAX will deliver 11 million doses this week, and between now and the end of May, 237 million doses of vaccines will be allocated to 142 participating economies and countries in COVAX,” explained Ghebreyesus.
“The distribution of vaccines has not been as equitable as we would have liked, but it has certainly been more equitable than it would have been otherwise. This is an unprecedented partnership that will not only the change course of the pandemic, but will also change the way the world responds to future health emergencies.”