By PIA SARKAR, Related Press
UNITED NATIONS (AP) — In 4 days of fiery speeches over warfare, local weather change and the specter of nuclear weapons, one concern felt like an afterthought throughout this yr’s U.N. Common Meeting: the coronavirus pandemic.
Masks have been typically pulled under chins — or not worn in any respect — and any point out of COVID-19 by world leaders sometimes got here on the tail-end of a protracted record of grievances.
However on the sidelines of the annual assembly, the pandemic was nonetheless very a lot a part of the dialog.
On Thursday, U.N. Secretary-Common Antonio Guterres gathered with World Well being Group chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, UNICEF Government Director Catherine Russell and others to debate equitable entry to COVID vaccines, assessments and coverings.
And earlier that day, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield joined leaders from across the globe to mark the progress that has been made to battle COVID-19 — together with the greater than 620 million vaccine doses to 116 international locations and economies that the US has supplied. However she emphasised there’s nonetheless a lot work to do.
Tedros famous that the variety of deaths across the globe is close to its lowest for the reason that pandemic started, and two-thirds of the world’s inhabitants is vaccinated. However the encouraging indicators masks a deep disparity between rich and poor international locations.
For example, solely 19% of individuals residing in low-income international locations are absolutely vaccinated in contrast with 75% in high-income international locations. And solely 35% of well being care employees and 31% of older populations in lower-income international locations are absolutely vaccinated and boosted.
Key to closing these gaps, in keeping with Guterres, is countering misinformation about vaccines and overcoming hesitancy whereas additionally growing testing to snuff out the potential for extra variants. The world additionally wants early warning methods for pandemics and should guarantee a well-paid and well-supplied workforce within the well being care sector.
“Let’s get it carried out,” Guterres mentioned. “Let’s finish this pandemic as soon as and for all.”
Thomas-Greenfield mentioned that COVID-19 care must be shifted from being supplied primarily in emergency amenities to integrating it in routine providers.
She outlined three new initiatives: a pilot program to be launched in 10 international locations to assist individuals get screened for COVID-19 and obtain antiviral medicines; a $50 million dedication from the U.S to enhance entry to medical oxygen essential for treating sufferers with extreme instances; and a world clearinghouse to make medical provide chains extra resilient, environment friendly and equitable.
Whereas few would argue that the scenario has not improved — and certainly U.S. President Joe Biden lately remarked that the pandemic was over earlier than strolling again his feedback — nobody on Thursday was able to name it quits.
“A marathon runner doesn’t cease when the end line comes into view,” Tedros mentioned, and as a substitute runs more durable to get to the top.
For extra protection of the U.N. Common Meeting, go to https://apnews.com/hub/united-nations-general-assembly
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