CORONA VIRUS

Apr. 19, 2021

Director-General's opening remarks at the media briefing on COVID-19

19 April 2021
Last week, new cases of COVID-19 increased for the eighth week in a row, with more than 5.2 million cases reported - the most in a single week so far. Deaths rose for the fifth straight week, and more than 3 million deaths have now been reported to WHO.
Today the Emergency Committee gave me its advice on vaccines, variants, international travel and other issues. Its full statement is available on our website.
Greta Thunberg has become the powerful voice of a younger generation demanding climate action. Today, Greta has announced a donation of 100 000 Euros from the Greta Thunberg Foundation, to the WHO Foundation in support of COVAX to provide vaccines to people in need.
WHO is committed to ensuring that the global recovery from COVID-19 includes the voices, energy and ideas of young people. To do that, we have partnered with an alliance of the six largest youth development organisations in the world to form the Global Youth Mobilization, to empower young people to respond to the challenges created by the pandemic in their local communities.
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Good morning, good afternoon and good evening.

Last week, new cases of COVID-19 increased for the eighth week in a row, with more than 5.2 million cases reported - the most in a single week so far.

Deaths rose for the fifth straight week, and more than 3 million deaths have now been reported to WHO.

It took 9 months to reach 1 million deaths; 4 months to reach 2 million, and 3 months to reach 3 million.

Big numbers can make us numb. But each one of these deaths is a tragedy for families, communities and nations.

Infections and hospitalizations among people aged 25 to 59 are increasing at an alarming rate, possibly as a result of highly transmissible variants and increased social mixing among younger adults.

Today the Emergency Committee gave me its advice on vaccines, variants, international travel and other issues. Its full statement is available on our website.



We have the tools to bring this pandemic under control in a matter of months, if we apply them consistently and equitably.

On Friday, WHO issued an expression of interest for establishing a COVID-19 technology transfer hub for mRNA vaccines, to increase production of those vaccines in low- and middle-income countries.

We are calling for the original manufacturers of mRNA vaccines to contribute their technology and know-how to a central hub, and for manufacturers in low- and middle-income countries to express interest in receiving that technology.

We have seen incredible innovation in science; now we need innovation to ensure as many people as possible benefit from that science.

The pandemic will recede. But we will still be left with all the other challenges that we had before, including the climate crisis.

This week marks Earth Day, on the 22nd of April – a reminder that human health depends on the health of the planet that sustains us.

COVID-19 has now killed more than 3 million people.

Air pollution kills more than double that number – 7 million people – every single year.

Despite temporary improvements in air quality last year as a result of so-called lockdowns, by September air pollution had returned to pre-pandemic levels.

Globally, CO2 emissions only decreased by less than 6% last year, but by December, they had rebounded to their previous levels.

The health argument for climate action is crystal clear.

The same unsustainable choices that are killing our planet are killing people.

There’s no vaccine for climate change, but we do have solutions.

Last year, WHO published our Manifesto for a healthy and green recovery, calling on all governments to protect nature, support clean energy sources, develop sustainable food systems and healthier cities, and reduce polluting activities.

Together, the six prescriptions of the WHO Manifesto can not only restore resilient economies, they are a lynchpin and essential prerequisite for healthy societies.

At the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow this year, WHO will deliver a special report with recommendations on how to maximize the health benefits of tackling climate change, while avoiding the worst health impacts of the climate crisis.

WHO is also spearheading an initiative on promoting climate-resilient health systems, in collaboration with the government of the United Kingdom.

Today it’s my honour to welcome someone who needs no introduction. Over the past few years, Greta Thunberg has become the powerful voice of a younger generation demanding climate action.

Greta’s mobilization of communities, particularly young people, has been truly inspirational, and has brought into sharp focus the impact of the climate crisis on people’s lives, and the urgent need for transformative action.

The awareness she has raised on the links between climate, the environment and health has supported WHO’s agenda in these areas, demonstrated the threats all of us face, and the role young people can play in building a more sustainable, safer, healthier world.

More recently, she has become a powerful advocate for vaccine equity. Tack så mycket, Greta.

Today, Greta has announced a donation of 100 thousand euros from the Greta Thunberg Foundation, to the WHO Foundation in support of COVAX to provide vaccines to people in need.

Greta, thank you – tack så mycket - for your superb advocacy for climate action and now for vaccine equity.

Your contribution to COVAX makes you the youngest person to support it so far.

Welcome, and you have the floor.

[GRETA THUNBERG ADDRESSED THE MEDIA]

Thank you so much, Greta, and thank you for your generosity in donating to the WHO Foundation in support of COVAX – these funds will help save lives.

Around the world, young people have been affected by the pandemic in many ways, from disruptions in education, loss of employment opportunities, mental health challenges and increased domestic and gender-based violence.

WHO is committed to ensuring that the global recovery from COVID-19 includes the voices, energy and ideas of young people.

To do that, we have partnered with an alliance of the six largest youth development organisations in the world to form the Global Youth Mobilization, to empower young people to respond to the challenges created by the pandemic in their local communities.

The Global Youth Mobilization has established a grant mechanism with funds from the Solidarity Response Fund, to support innovative local solutions to address the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

From today, young people around the world will be able to apply for grants of between US$500 and US$5000 dollars, through the Global Youth Mobilization.

These local solutions will be judged and decided on by young people, for young people.

To mark the starting point for young people to get involved in the Global Youth Mobilization, a Global Youth Summit will be held virtually from this Friday to Sunday, the 23rd to the 25th of April.

Over three days, thousands of young people, leaders, policy makers and changemakers will come together in one space to discuss the issues facing young people across the world.

On behalf of the “Big Six” youth organizations, the United Nations Foundation and WHO, I invite everyone to join us at the Global Youth Summit.

Today I’m delighted to be joined by representatives from two of the “Big Six” organizations.

First, it’s my honour to welcome Elahi Rawshan, a volunteer with the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, in Bangladesh.

Elahi, thank you for joining us today. You have the floor.

[ELAHI RAWSHAN ADDRESSED THE MEDIA]

Thank you so much Elahi.

Next it’s my pleasure to introduce Daisy Moran, a representative of the World YMCA, and a board member of the Global Youth Mobilization.

Daisy, thank you for joining us and you have the floor.

[DAISY MORAN ADDRESSED THE MEDIA]

Thank you so much Daisy. By youth, for the youth. Thank you to both of you for your leadership and vision.

I look forward to joining both of you at the World Youth Summit, and I look forward to seeing what ideas we can help take forward through the Global Youth Mobilization.

This is a reminder that although we are all living through a dark time, there are also many reasons for hope and optimism about the future.

Christian, back to you.

Apr. 19, 2021

Apr. 19, 2021
Apr. 14, 2021

 

April 14, 2021

 

Please see the attached E-book for:

 

“Laboratory Modeling of SARS-CoV-2 Exposure Reduction Through Physically Distanced Seating in Aircraft Cabins Using Bacteriophage Aerosol — November 2020”

Link when live: https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/70/wr/mm7016e1.htm?s_cid=mm7016e1_w

Apr. 14, 2021

Director-General's opening remarks at the media briefing on COVID-19 – 12 April 2021
12 April 2021
We have now seen seven consecutive weeks of increasing cases, and four weeks of increasing deaths. Last week was the fourth-highest number of cases in a single week so far.
This is despite the fact that more than 780 million doses of vaccine have now been administered globally. This disease is not flu. Young, healthy people have died. And we still don’t fully understand the long-term consequences of infection for those who survive.
With a concerted effort to apply public health measures alongside equitable vaccination, we could bring this pandemic under control in a matter of months.
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Good morning, good afternoon and good evening.

In January and February, the world saw six consecutive weeks of declining cases.

We have now seen seven consecutive weeks of increasing cases, and four weeks of increasing deaths.

Last week was the fourth-highest number of cases in a single week so far.

Several countries in Asia and the Middle East have seen large increases in cases.

This is despite the fact that more than 780 million doses of vaccine have now been administered globally.

Make no mistake, vaccines are a vital and powerful tool. But they are not the only tool.

We say this day after day, week after week. And we will keep saying it.

Physical distancing works. Masks work. Hand hygiene works. Ventilation works. Surveillance, testing, contact tracing, isolation, supportive quarantine and compassionate care – they all work to stop infections and save lives.

But confusion, complacency and inconsistency in public health measures and their application are driving transmission and costing lives.

It takes a consistent, coordinated and comprehensive approach.

So many countries around the world have shown that this virus can be stopped and contained with proven public health measures and strong systems that respond rapidly and consistently.

As a result, many of those countries have gained control over COVID-19, and their people are now able to enjoy sporting events, concerts, restaurants and seeing their family and friends safely.

WHO does not want endless lockdowns. The countries that have done best have taken a tailored, measured, agile and evidence-based combination of measures.

We too want to see societies and economies reopening, and travel and trade resuming.

But right now, intensive care units in many countries are overflowing and people are dying – and it is totally avoidable.

In some countries, despite continuing transmission, restaurants and night clubs are full, markets are open and crowded with few people taking precautions.

Some people appear to be taking the approach that if they are relatively young, it doesn’t matter if they get COVID-19.

This disease is not flu. Young, healthy people have died. And we still don’t fully understand the long-term consequences of infection for those who survive.

Many people who have suffered even mild disease report long-term symptoms including fatigue, weakness, “brain fog”, dizziness, tremors, insomnia, depression, anxiety, joint pain, chest tightness and more, which are symptoms of long-COVID.

This pandemic is a long way from over. But we have many reasons for optimism.

The decline in cases and deaths during the first two months of the year shows that this virus and its variants can be stopped.

With a concerted effort to apply public health measures alongside equitable vaccination, we could bring this pandemic under control in a matter of months.

Whether we do or not comes down to the decisions and the actions that governments and individuals make every day.

The choice is ours.

Christian, back to you.

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The Director-General made the following remarks at the end of the press conference
The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that global manufacturing capacity is not sufficient to deliver vaccines and other essential health products quickly and equitably to where they are needed most.

Earlier today I joined several leaders from Africa for a discussion about how to increase local vaccine production.

It was encouraging to hear Rwanda, Senegal and South Africa speak about the concrete steps they have so far taken to start local production.

Early in the pandemic, African countries came together to agree on a coordinated continental approach to the pandemic, and now they’re coming together for a coordinated approach to scaling up manufacturing.

Investing in sustainable and secure domestic manufacturing capacity and national regulatory authorities is critical for providing essential immunization programmes, and for building strong, resilient health systems against the inevitable health emergencies of the future.

To address this challenge, WHO and our partners have established a COVAX manufacturing taskforce, to increase supply in the short term, but also to build a platform for sustainable vaccine manufacturing to support regional health security.

What can be done today, should be done today.

WHO is also ready to provide immediate technical support to assist countries in assessing the feasibility of local production, and in accessing technology and know-how.

I also want to express my solidarity with the people on the Caribbean island of St Vincent who have been evacuating their homes due to volcanic activity over the weekend.

According to experts, there are likely to be further eruptions and WHO stands ready to support the government and people of St Vincent in any way we can.

Finally, I would like to wish all Muslims Ramadan Mubarak, Ramadan Karim.