World Health Organization (WHO) Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus will attend a daily press conference on COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, on March 11, 2020 at WHO headquarters in Geneva.

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The world is in the early stages of another wave of Covid-19 infections and deaths, World Health Organization director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Wednesday.

Speaking to members of the International Olympic Committee in Tokyo, Tedros said the global failure to share vaccines, tests and treatments is fueling a “two-pronged pandemic”. Countries with adequate resources like vaccines are opening up while others lock up to slow down the transmission of the virus.

“This is not only a moral outrage, but also epidemiologically and economically self-destructive,” Tedros said, adding that the longer the pandemic lasts, the more socio-economic turmoil it will bring.

“The pandemic is a test and the world is failing,” he said.

A festival of hope

The Tokyo Games are slated to open on Friday after being postponed last year due to the pandemic.

Rising Covid-19 cases in Tokyo have overshadowed the Olympics, which excluded all viewers from the Games this month after Japan declared a state of emergency.

The cases around the Japanese capital have increased by more than 1,000 new infections daily in the past few days. Japan has reported more than 848,000 Covid cases and over 15,000 deaths nationwide from a relatively slow vaccine adoption.

The first positive Covid-19 case hit the athletes’ village over the weekend and so far more than 70 cases have been linked to the Tokyo Games.

On Wednesday, Tedros said the Games were a celebration of “something our world needs now more than ever – a celebration of hope”. While the pandemic may have postponed the Games, he said it did not “beat” them.

Vaccine discrepancies

Tedros criticized the vaccine discrepancies between rich and low-income countries. He said 75% of all vaccine doses were given in just 10 countries, while only 1% of people in poorer countries received at least one vaccination.

The global health authority has called for at least 70% of the population in every country to be vaccinated by the middle of next year.

“The pandemic will end when the world chooses to end it. It’s in our hands, ”said Tedros. “We have all the tools we need: we can prevent this disease, we can test for it, and we can treat it.”

He called on the world’s leading economies, by sharing vaccines and funding global efforts to make them more accessible, and incentivizing companies to expand vaccine production.

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