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COVID killed more people this year than HIV, malaria, tuberculosis combined in 2020 – WHO

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has disclosed that more deaths were recorded from COVID in 2021 than for HIV, malaria and tuberculosis combined in 2020.

This was disclosed on Wednesday by WHO director-general, Tedros Ghebreyesus at a media briefing on COVID-19.

According to him, despite the circumstances, 2021 gave the world many reasons to hope.

“Science delivered that hope in the form of vaccines, which have undoubtedly saved many lives this year,” he said.

“On the other hand, there is no doubt that the inequitable sharing of those vaccines has cost many lives. 2021 was a year in which we lost 3.5 million people to COVID-19 – more deaths than from HIV, malaria and tuberculosis combined in 2020.

“And still, COVID-19 continues to claim around 50 thousand lives every week.

“As Omicron becomes the dominant variant in many countries, all of us need to take extra precautions.”

He also said COVID vaccine booster programmes are likely to prolong the pandemic, rather than end it.

Ghebreyesus said while some countries are rolling out booster shots, only half of WHO’s member states have been able to reach the target of vaccinating 40 percent of their populations by the end of the year “because of distortions in global supply”.

He said if the vaccines had been distributed equitably, the 40% target could have been reached in every country by September.

“We’re encouraged that supply is improving. Today, #COVAX shipped its 800 millionth vaccine dose. Half of those doses have been shipped in the past three months,” he said.

“Our projections show that supply should be sufficient to vaccinate the entire global adult population, and to give boosters to high-risk populations by the first quarter of 2022.

“However, only later in 2022 will supply be sufficient for extensive use of boosters in all adults.

“So, I call once again on countries and manufacturers to prioritise #COVAX and AVAT, and to work together to support those who are furthest behind.

“Blanket booster programmes are likely to prolong the COVID-19 pandemic, rather than ending it, by diverting supply to countries that already have high levels of vaccination coverage, giving the virus more opportunity to spread and mutate.

“No country can boost its way out of the pandemic.”

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