The COVID-19 pandemic is far from over, World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned Thursday at the second U.S.-led virtual COVID summit, co-hosted by Belize, Germany, Indonesia and Senegal.
“So although reported cases and deaths are now decreasing globally, it is misguided to think this pandemic is over. The pandemic is not over anywhere until it’s over everywhere,” Tedros said.
“In fact, cases are increasing in more than 70 countries. At the same time, testing rates globally are plummeting, making us blind to the evolution of the virus,” the WHO chief said. “And almost one billion people in lower-income countries remain unvaccinated. We must continue to support all countries to reach 70% as soon as possible, with a focus on those most at risk.”
Meanwhile, the first African factory licensed to produce COVID vaccines may soon shut down that production line, according to a New York Times report, because the facility has not received any orders.
The newspaper reported commercial production of the COVID vaccine never began at Aspen Pharmacare in South Africa.
The announcement late last year that COVID vaccines would be produced at the South African facility, after the company signed a deal with Johnson and Johnson, was widely touted as a solution to the continent’s unequal access to the shots.
According to the Times, Stavros Nicolaou, the head of Aspen’s strategic trade development, said that without any orders in the next six weeks, its COVID vaccine production line would have to shut down.
The latest tally from the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center shows there have been more than 520 million global COVID cases and more than 6 million deaths. More than 11 billion vaccines have been administered, Johns Hopkins said.