January 18, 2022

This year could mark the end of the worst of the coronavirus pandemic

By Shirvan Williams

If the world can come together to end vaccine inequality the worst of the coronavirus pandemic including deaths, hospitalizations, and lockdowns could be over by the end of this year. That’s according to the head of emergencies at the World Health Organization.

Dr. Michael Ryan made the comments, earlier today, during a panel discussion on vaccine inequity hosted by the World Economic Forum. He added that we may never end the virus because such pandemic viruses usually “end up becoming part of the ecosystem.”

However, he added, “we have a chance to end the public health emergency this year if we do the things that we’ve been talking about.”

According to the WHO, fewer than 10% of people in lower-income countries have received even one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

“What we need to do is get to low levels of disease incidence with maximum vaccination of our populations, so nobody has to die. The issue is: It’s the death. It’s the hospitalizations. It’s the disruption of our social, economic, political systems that’s caused the tragedy — not the virus,” Ryan also said.

As to whether or not the pandemic is ready to be scaled down to an endemic, he said that either way it was still a negative thing since endemics also kill hundreds of thousands of people.

“Endemic malaria kills hundreds of thousands of people; endemic HIV; endemic violence in our inner cities. Endemic in itself does not mean good. Endemic just means it’s here forever,” he said.

Another speaker at the panel discussion, John Nkengasong, director of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, also decried the “total collapse of global cooperation and solidarity” over the last two years. He added that it was “totally unacceptable” how few people in Africa have gotten vaccine shots. According to his agency, only 10% of Africa’s 1.2 billion people are fully vaccinated.