Tag Archives: Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus

COVID-19: Groups plead with wealthy nations to share vaccines with poor countries.

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WHO explained that, of the 128 million jabs of COVID-19 delivered so far, three-quarters of these have taken place in only 10 countries..

The World Health Organisation (WHO) and United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) have asked wealthy countries to share COVID-19 vaccines with poorer nations once they inoculate their health workers and other vulnerable groups.

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Director-General of WHO, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and Executive Director of UNICEF, Henrietta Fore, gave the charge in a statement yesterday, saying about 130 countries with a combined population of 2.5 billion people were yet to deliver any COVID-19 vaccines.

WHO explained that, of the 128 million jabs of COVID-19 delivered so far, three-quarters of these have taken place in only 10 countries, and enjoined vaccine manufacturers to allocate the limited supplies equitably.

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They said: “Over three-quarters of those vaccinations are in only 10 countries that account for 60 per cent of global Gross Domestic Product (GDP). As of today, almost 130 countries, with a population of 2.5 billion people, are yet to administer a single dose.

“The self-defeating strategy of wealthy nation will cost lives and livelihoods, give the virus further opportunity to mutate and evade vaccines and will undermine a global economic recovery. Whether we win or lose, we will do so together.”

They also admonished world leaders to look beyond their borders and employ a vaccine strategy that could actually end the pandemic and limit variants, adding that globally, over 107 million cases of COVID-19 and over 2.3 million deaths have been recorded.

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Meanwhile, Nigeria has been named one of the countries to get vaccines through the COVAX Global vaccines facility, the Global Vaccine Alliance (GAVI), as it is expected to receive 16 million free doses in the first half of the year.

COVAX, an international alliance co-led by GAVI, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and the WHO and over 180 countries, is a global initiative to support the development, manufacturing, and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines for about one billion people by the end of 2021.

In a statement, yesterday, GAVI shared the first forecasts of countries that would receive COVID-19 vaccines through COVAX’s Advance Market Commitment (AMC), adding that COVAX had allocated over 330 million doses for low and middle-income countries, including Nigeria and will aim to deliver most of these before June ending.

NoRM learnt that Nigeria, as one of the 92 ODA-eligible countries participating in the COVAX AMC initiative, would benefit from the arrangement and access free vaccines for at least 20 per cent of its population.

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NoRM also learnt that the United Kingdom (UK) would be playing an active role in ensuring effective and equitable introduction of COVID-19 vaccines.

“This is a global pandemic that needs global solution. The UK is at the forefront of tackling COVID-19 worldwide and has so far pledged up to £1.3 billion of UK aid to end the coronavirus pandemic as quickly as possible, championing access to vaccines, especially for the poorest nations.

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#Newsworthy

Ethiopia accuses WHO Chief of backing dissident region

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A senior Tigrayan official, Wondimu Asamnew, said in an email that Tigrayan forces “have adopted a defensive posture on all fronts”.

Ethiopia’s army chief on Thursday accused WHO boss Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus — the country’s highest-profile Tigrayan abroad — of lobbying for and seeking to arm leaders in the conflict-torn dissident region.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed unleashed a military campaign against the northern region on November 4 with the declared aim of unseating its ruling party, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), which he accuses of defying his government and seeking to destabilise it.

Army chief Berhanu Jula told a press conference that Tedros, who served as minister of health under TPLF leader Meles Zenawi, was “a part of that team”, referring to the party.

“He has worked in neighbouring countries to condemn the war. He has worked for them to get weapons,” said Berhanu.

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He said Tedros had “left no stone unturned” to help the TPLF, the party Abiy says he is targeting in a military offensive in the region.

“What do you expect from him? We don’t expect he will side with the Ethiopian people and condemn them,” he said.

Tedros has yet to respond to the accusation.

The 55-year-old was appointed as the first African head of the WHO in 2017 and has become a household name as he grapples with the Covid-19 pandemic. He has been ranked as one of Time magazine’s most influential people.

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Abiy’s government insists its target is the “reactionary and rogue” members of the TPLF and not average civilians in Tigray.

But observers have voiced concern about Tigrayans losing their jobs or being arrested for their ethnicity.

‘Outside forces’
The TPLF led the overthrow of Mengistu Hailemariam, head of Ethiopia’s military Derg regime, in 1991 and dominated politics for three decades until the arrival of Abiy who was appointed in 2018.

The party has complained about being sidelined under Abiy, and scapegoated for the country’s woes, and a bitter feud with the central government this year led them to hold their own elections in defiance of a postponement due to the coronavirus.

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On November 4, Abiy said the TPLF had attacked two federal military camps in the region, crossing a “red line”.

His controversial campaign has seen warplanes bombing Tigray and heavy fighting, while Amnesty International has documented a gruesome massacre.

A communications blackout in Tigray has made claims difficult to verify, but the overall toll is believed to be in the hundreds.

Meanwhile, the UN says a “full-scale humanitarian crisis” is unfolding, with 36,000 people having streamed into neighbouring Sudan, according to that country’s refugee commission.

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The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said Wednesday that the Ethiopia Red Cross Society had “transported hundreds of people injured in areas affected by clashes.”

Abiy this week insisted the military operation was in its final phase, and his government has said it is marching towards the regional capital Mekele after a string of victories.

A statement from Tigray president Debretsion Gebremichael said Thursday that the army had “called upon assistance from an outside force, with drones starting to be used in the battle.”

‘Alienating Tigrayans’
Since the start of the fighting, hundreds of people have been arrested for allegedly conspiring with the TPLF, while 34 businesses had their bank accounts suspended for alleged links to the TPLF.

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The federal police late Wednesday announced arrest warrants for 76 army officers, some retired, accused of conspiring with the TPLF and “committing treason”.

The government has also said it has “credible and specific evidence” of TPLF operatives working for local and international organisations.

“We continue to receive credible reports of job suspensions of Tigrayan residents elsewhere in the country as fighting escalates in Tigray,” Laetitia Bader of Human Rights Watch told AFP last week.

“Given the incredibly tense and volatile context in the country, Ethiopian authorities should push back against language and measures that fuel intolerance and risk alienating Tigrayans from all walks of life.”


#Newsworthy…

COVID-19: Vaccines not enough – WHO Chief, Tedros

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The pandemic is raging months after it broke out, with infections soaring past 54 million and claiming more than 1.3 million lives.

The head of the World Health Organization said Monday that a vaccine would not by itself stop the coronavirus pandemic.

“A vaccine will complement the other tools we have, not replace them,” director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said. “A vaccine on its own will not end the pandemic.”

The WHO’s figures for Saturday showed that 660,905 coronavirus cases were reported to the UN health agency, setting a new high watermark.

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That number, and the 645,410 registered on Friday, surpassed the previous daily record high of 614,013 recorded on November 7.

Tedros said that supplies of the vaccine would initially be restricted, with “health workers, older people and other at-risk populations (to) be prioritised. That will hopefully reduce the number of deaths and enable the health systems to cope.”

But he warned: “That will still leave the virus with a lot of room to move. Surveillance will need to continue, people will still need to be tested, isolated and cared for, contacts will still need to be traced… and individuals will still need to be cared for.”


#Newsworthy…

COVID-19: Vaccines must be ‘universal benefit’ – WHO Head.

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Several voices were raised questioning the effectiveness of this process in attempting to prevent or rein in the Covid-19 pandemic.

The head of the World Health Organization hailed the rapid progress towards a Covid-19 vaccine but insisted Friday that every country must reap the benefits.

“A vaccine will be a vital tool for controlling the pandemic, and we’re encouraged by the preliminary results of clinical trials released this week,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, in closing the WHO’s annual assembly.

US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech announced Monday that their candidate vaccine had proven 90 percent effective in ongoing final phase trials involving more than 40,000 people, less than a year after the novel coronavirus emerged in China.

“Never in history has vaccine research progressed so quickly. We must apply the same urgency and innovation to ensuring that all countries benefit from this scientific achievement,” said Tedros.

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The coronavirus has killed nearly 1.3 million people worldwide while more than 52.7 million cases have been registered, according to a tally from official sources compiled by AFP.

However, the tallies probably reflect only a fraction of the actual number of infections. Many countries are testing only symptomatic or the most serious cases.

Shared pathogens lab plan
Tedros said the pandemic had shown there was an urgent need for “a globally-agreed system for sharing pathogen materials and clinical samples”, to facilitate the rapid development of Covid-19 vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics as “global public goods”.

He said the system could not wait for bilateral agreements that could take years to negotiate.

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“We are proposing a new approach that would include a repository for materials housed by WHO in a secure Swiss facility; an agreement that sharing materials into this repository is voluntary; that WHO can facilitate the transfer and use of the materials; and a set of criteria under which WHO would distribute them,” said Tedros.

The UN health agency’s director-general thanked Thailand and Italy for offering to provide materials and pioneer the new approach, and Switzerland for offering a laboratory.

WHO member states on Friday approved a resolution on strengthening preparedness for health emergencies.

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The resolution calls on countries “to prioritise at the highest political level the improvement of, and coordination for, health emergency preparedness.”

It also urges countries to continue developing their capacities for detecting infectious diseases, in compliance with the International Health Regulations.

Sounding the alarm
The regulations on global health security, approved in 2005 and entering into force two years later, notably regulate how a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC) is declared.

They also include specific measures to be implemented at ports, airports and border posts in order to limit the spread of risk.

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Washington accused Tedros of being too slow to declare a PHEIC over the new coronavirus. The WHO chief himself has been critical of its binary on-or-off nature, with no levels of alert in between.

The resolution adopted on Friday asks Tedros to seek possible “complementary mechanisms” that could be used to alert member states “about the severity and/or magnitude of a public health emergency in order to mobilise necessary support and to facilitate international coordination”.

He is expected to deliver his ideas at the next WHO annual meeting.

Besides discussing the pandemic, the WHO assembly agreed on a new plan to defeat meningitis by 2030; increased action on epilepsy and other neurological disorders; and a strategy to speed up the elimination of cervical cancer as a public health problem.


#Newsworthy…