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Covid pandemic has killed one million people worldwide since January- WHO

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director general   -  
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The Covid pandemic has killed one million people worldwide since January, the WHO said Thursday, calling on governments to speed up vaccination as one-third of the world's population remains unvaccinated.

"We have passed the tragic milestone of one million deaths from Covid-19 since the beginning of the year," World Health Organization (WHO) Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a news conference.

He called on governments in all countries to redouble their efforts to vaccinate all health workers, the elderly and others most at risk, in order to achieve 70% vaccination coverage for the entire population.

In January of this year, WHO, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and their partners created the Covid Vaccine Delivery Partnership (CoVDP) to facilitate the distribution of doses in 34 countries with less than 10 percent coverage, all but six in Africa.

Now, Dr. Tedros said, only 10 countries still have less than 10% coverage.

"However, there is still much to do," he said.

According to the WHO boss, one third of the world population is still not vaccinated, including two thirds of health workers and three quarters of the elderly in low-income countries.

According to the latest WHO statistics, the Covid-19 pandemic is responsible for 6.45 million deaths worldwide since the first cases appeared in late 2019 in the Wuhan region of China.//

The WHO said Thursday it has seen a 21% reduction in new cases of monkeypox reported worldwide last week, with the epidemic beginning to slow in Europe.

But the World Health Organization is far from pleased with the situation, as it sees "intense transmission" of the epidemic in the Americas.

"At the beginning of the epidemic, most of the reported cases were in Europe, and a smaller portion in the Americas. This situation has now been reversed, with less than 40% of cases reported in Europe and 60% in the Americas," WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a press conference.

"In Latin America in particular, insufficient awareness or insufficient public health measures, combined with lack of access to vaccines, is fuelling the epidemic," he noted.

Previously limited to Central and West Africa, monkeypox has spread since May to other parts of the world, including Europe and the United States, with a total of 44,464 cases reported worldwide as of August 24, including 13 deaths, according to the latest WHO online report.

After four consecutive weeks of increases, the number of reported cases worldwide decreased by 21% during the period August 15-21, compared to the previous week, according to the WHO weekly report on monkeypox.

According to the report, in the past seven days, two countries have reported their first case: Iran and Indonesia.

"There are signs that the epidemic is slowing down in Europe, where a combination of effective public health measures, behavioral changes and vaccination are helping to prevent transmission," said Dr. Tedros.

The World Health Organization (WHO) on July 24 activated the highest level of alert, the "public health emergency of international concern", to strengthen the fight against the disease.

Bavarian Nordic, the Danish laboratory producing the only licensed monkeypox vaccine, announced Wednesday an agreement with WHO to facilitate its distribution in Latin American and Caribbean countries.

"We thank Bavarian Nordic for this agreement, and we hope it will help control the epidemic in the region," Dr. Tedros said Thursday.

"WHO continues to encourage all countries to implement vaccine efficacy studies to ensure data collection while improving access" to doses, he said.

Marketed by Bavarian Nordic as Jynneos in North America and Imvanex in Europe, it is a vaccine against human smallpox, a deadly disease eradicated in 1980, that is currently used against monkeypox.