After reviewing the latest COVID-19 developments last week, the World Health Organization (WHO) emergency committee said the pandemic is far from over, although countries are making progress in rolling out vaccines and treatments.
The group of external advisors met for the ninth time by videoconference on October 22 and unanimously agreed that the situation still warrants a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC), declared on January 30, 2020. . The group usually meets every 3. months or more often if necessary.
Concerns remain over Africa’s access
In a statement released today about its deliberations, the group expressed concern about Africa’s challenges in gaining access to adequate vaccines, tests and treatments and in monitoring the spread of COVID-19 as many countries have gaps. in laboratory capability and genomic sequencing.
The committee also said it is critical that all countries use all the tools at their disposal to mitigate the many impacts of the pandemic.
Committee members amended and expanded most of their temporary recommendations, but added a new one that supports the uptake of WHO-recommended treatments by addressing accessibility and affordability.
More global headlines
- An independent monitoring board established in 2018 by the WHO and the World Bank to monitor the world’s outbreak and emergency preparedness in the wake of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa has highlighted the failures in the global response to the COVID -19 pandemic described in detail. The Global Preparedness Monitoring Board said in its new report the failures stemmed from inequality and inaction and were exacerbated by political divisions. It called for new efforts to address future threats, including an international agreement on health preparedness and a global summit of health leaders to address the issue.
- In vaccine development, Germany-based BioNTech, which developed the Pfizer-marketed mRNA vaccine, said today it will build a vaccine production facility in Rwanda next year, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) approved the Moderna booster, and China said it will start vaccinating children as young as 3 years old.
- Meanwhile, the Chinese city of Lanzhou – the capital of Gansu province and home to 4 million people – is on lockdown during outbreak developments after six local cases were discovered, according to the guard.
- In Europe, Russia and Ukraine — two Eastern European countries experiencing COVID-19 spikes — reported record death records today.
- The global total has risen to 244,318,680 cases today, with 4,960,323 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins online dashboard.