As we approach the anniversary of the day the World Health Organization officially declared the COVID-19 pandemic (which happened on March 11, to be exact), the organization is cautioning that 2021 is unlikely to mark the end of the virus that has claimed millions of lives around the globe.
According to the Associated Press, director of the WHO’s emergencies program, Dr. Michael Ryan, said at a media briefing on Monday that the prospect of the pandemic being over by the end of the year is premature and unrealistic.
Though his words provide a sobering (if harsh) dose of reality, Ryan added that a goal of curbing hospitalizations and death from the coronavirus could be reached in 2021—especially given the vaccines now in circulation.
Deliveries of a single-dose protection from COVID-19, developed by Johnson & Johnson, started going out across the U.S. on Monday after the FDA granted the vaccine emergency use authorization this the weekend. It’s the third vaccine to be authorized by the FDA.
“If the vaccines begin to impact not only on death and not only on hospitalization, but have a significant impact on transmission dynamics and transmission risk, then I believe we will accelerate toward controlling this pandemic,” said the WHO official.
But the disparities in vaccine distribution that have already been clocked in the U.S. appear to be playing out on a larger scale across the globe. While Canada, Britain and America were early out of the gate in vaccinating their populations—though none has managed to do so comprehensively—West African nations Ghana and the Ivory Coast are just beginning their inoculation campaigns.
The African countries were allocated COVID-19 vaccines last week through COVAX, a global program supported by WHO and UNICEF that is supplying low-income nations with vaccines to help ensure equitable access to protection against the coronavirus.
“Countries are not in a race with each other,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Monday. “This is a common race against the virus.”
As of February, the total number of COVID deaths recorded on the African continent was around 100,000, reports the BBC. That number is still way below America’s fatalities, which total over 500,000.
Speaking of America, CNBC reports that our former president and his wife, Melania Trump, got their vaccines against the coronavirus at the White House in January. Perhaps too busy challenging the election of President Joe Biden to pretend at exhibiting leadership during the pandemic, the Trumps apparently didn’t feel it necessary to tell the country about their doses.