Guterres: 5 million Covid deaths a ‘global shame’

Geneva, Nov 1 (EFE).- Worldwide coronavirus-related deaths reached five million on Monday, a milestone the United Nations secretary-general Antonio Guterres said was a “global shame”.

“This devastating milestone reminds us that we are failing much of the world,” he said in a statement.

“It would be a mistake to think that the pandemic is over. As restrictions ease in many places, we must also match vaccines with vigilance,” he added.

“Five million deaths should also stand as a clear warning: we cannot let our guard down,” the statement read. “Overcrowded hospitals and exhausted health workers. And the risk of new variants spreading and claiming more lives.”

He highlighted the disparity in vaccination rates between rich countries, many of which are administering third, booster jabs, and poorer ones, pointing out that “only about five percent of people in Africa are fully vaccinated.“

Guterres urged developed countries to increase vaccine donations and distribution to reach the goal of inoculating at least 40 and 70 percent of the world’s population by the end of the year and mid-2022 respectively.

Globally, almost half of the world’s population has received at least one jab, with more than 7 billion doses administered, but that percentage drops to 3.6 percent in low-income economies.

“The best way to honor those five million people lost (…) is to make vaccine equity a reality by accelerating our efforts and ensuring maximum vigilance to defeat this virus,” he said.

The Americas account for nearly 2.3 million deaths, followed by Europe with 1.4 million and South Asia with 693,000.

The Middle East reported 301,000 deaths, while Africa registered 150,000 and 129,000 people died in West Asia, where the virus was first detected in late 2019. EFE

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