Speaking during WHO’s regular media briefing from Geneva, she urged the international community to address the “tragedy” of vaccine inequity, describing COVAX as the best path forward to ensuring equal distribution of these medicines and the way out of the global crisis.
Frequent future pandemics
Ms. Thunberg underscored the links between the pandemic and the climate emergency.
“Science shows that in the future, we will most likely experience more frequent and more devastating pandemics unless we drastically change our ways and the way treat nature,” she said.
“We can no longer separate the health crisis from the ecological crisis, and we cannot separate the ecological crisis from the climate crisis. It’s all interlinked in many ways.”
Step up your game
While the rapid development of COVID-19 vaccines has shown what countries can achieve when they invest in science, Ms. Thunberg noted that most doses have gone to higher-income nations.
“And the international community, governments and vaccine developers must step up their game and address the tragedy that is vaccine inequity. We have the tools we need to correct this great imbalance that exists around the world today in the fight against COVID-19,” she said.
The Swedish teenager found it “completely unethical” that wealthier nations were now vaccinating younger, healthy citizens “if that happens at the expense of people in risk groups and on the frontlines in low and middle-income countries.”
Vaccine equity is “a moral test”, she said.
“We talk today about showing solidarity, and yet vaccine nationalism is what’s running the vaccine distribution. It is only when it really comes down to it that we show our true face.”
Increase in cases, deaths
New cases of COVID-19 increased for the eighth week in a row last week, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told journalists.
The more than 5.2 million cases reported worldwide represent the most in a single week so far.
Deaths also rose for the fifth straight week, totalling more than three million.
“It took 9 months to reach 1 million deaths; 4 months to reach 2 million, and 3 months to reach 3 million,” Tedros said.
“Big numbers can make us numb. But each one of these deaths is a tragedy for families, communities and nations.”
Infections and hospitalizations among people aged 25 to 29 are increasing at an alarming rate, Tedros added, which is possiblly due to highly transmissible COVID-19 variants and increased socializing.
Global Youth Mobilization
A WHO-backed initiative launched on Monday will give young activists worldwide the chance to apply for funding to support innovative solutions to address the pandemic’s impact.
The Global Youth Mobilization aims to ensure young people’s experience, creativity and passion, inform policies and decisions that affecting their lives.
Millions of young people continue to feel the strain of the pandemic. Ninety per cent have reported increased mental anxiety, WHO said, while school closures have impacted more than a billion students.
The platform is led by the world’s six largest youth organizations, such as the Scouts and Girl Guides, which engage more than 250 million young people across the planet.
Among the key issues that will be addressed are education disruption, impacts on mental health, lost employment, grief and loneliness, and gender-based violence.