Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO), speaks at a press conference after the WHO emergency committee's meeting on the novel coronavirus in China at its headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, Jan. 22, 2020. (Xinhua/Liu Qu)
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO)

Global cooperation, instead of competition and confrontation, is the only choice to end the COVID-19 pandemic, the World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Monday when addressing the disparity in access to vaccines worldwide.

“The shocking global disparity in access to vaccines remains one of the biggest risks to ending the pandemic,” Tedros said at a press briefing.

High- and upper-middle income countries, with 53 percent of the world’s population, have received 83 percent of the world’s vaccines, while low- and lower-middle income countries, with 47 percent of the world’s population, have received just 17 percent of the world’s vaccines, according to WHO’s data.

Tedros expressed his belief that cooperation is the “only choice” to end this pandemic. “We cannot defeat this pandemic through competition, we can’t.

If you compete for resources, or if you compete for geopolitical advantages, then the virus gets advantage,” Tedros said, stressing a “very basic principle of identifying the virus as a common enemy.” The WHO validated the BBIBP-CorV COVID-19 vaccine developed by China’s Sinopharm for emergency use on Friday.

China has decided to provide 10 million COVID-19 vaccine doses to the COVAX initiative to meet the needs of developing countries, which would potentially ease the global shortage, especially in low- and middle-income countries.

Despite declines in numbers of new COVID-19 cases in most regions including the Americas and Europe, the two worst-affected regions, the world has been witnessing an “unacceptably high plateau”, with more than 5.4 million cases and almost 90,000 deaths reported last week, Tedros said.

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