Funeral directors wearing personal protective equipment carry a coffin during the funeral of a COVID-19 victim amid a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) nationwide lockdown at Olifantsvlei Cemetery, southwest of Joburg, South Africa, Jan. 6, 2021.
Siphiwe Sibeko | Reuters
The global spread of Covid-19 is advancing faster than the global distribution of vaccines, World Health Organization officials said on Monday.
They attributed transmission rates to new variants like Alpha and Delta, which have proven to be more contagious.
“This means that the risks for people who are not protected, ie most of the world’s population, have increased,” WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during a press conference.
While the number of new cases of the virus continues to decline worldwide, the number of deaths has not decreased by the same amount, he said. Since the pandemic began, more than 3.8 million people have died of Covid worldwide.
A person receives a dose of Pfizer BioNTech vaccine at a vaccination center for people over 18 years old at the Belmont Health Center in Harrow amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in London, Great Britain, June 6, 2021.
Henry Nicholls | Reuters
The number of new cases has declined for seven straight weeks, the longest decline in the world since the pandemic began. But the number of deaths reported this week is still similar to last week, he said.
“While weekly cases are at their lowest level since February, deaths are not falling anytime soon,” Tedros said. “The global decline hides worrying increases in cases and deaths in many countries.”
Countries in Africa have higher Covid death rates than other countries, he said. The higher death rates are particularly worrying as African countries have reported fewer cases than most other regions.
African countries also have the least access to vaccines, diagnostics and oxygen supplies, underscoring the impact of medical inequality that global health authorities have warned about.
“There are enough vaccine doses around the world to contain transmission and save many lives when used in the right places for the right people,” said Tedros.
The G-7 have pledged to distribute 870 million doses of vaccine around the world, but WHO says more are needed.
“This is a big help, but we need more and we need it faster. More than 10,000 people die every day,” said Tedros.