U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres Monday called the more than five million COVID-19 deaths “a global shame,” and a reminder that much of the world is being “failed” by vaccine inequities.
The Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center reported early Monday that the global death toll from the COVID pandemic reached over five million, just four months after the four million death milestone.
In a statement, Guterres said these deaths are “not just numbers on a page. They are mothers and fathers. Brothers and sisters. Daughters and sons. Family, friends and colleagues. Lives cut short by a merciless virus that respects no borders.” COVID-19 is caused by the coronavirus.
He said the devastating milestone is a reminder that while wealthy countries are rolling out third “booster” doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, only about 5 percent of people in Africa are fully vaccinated.
The U.N chief urged world leaders to fully support the Global Vaccination Strategy he launched last month with the World Health Organization, and, through funding and vaccine donations, help meet the goal of inoculating 40 percent of people in all countries by the end of this year — and 70 percent by mid-2022.
He said, “The best way to honor those five million people lost.... is to make vaccine equity a reality by accelerating our efforts and ensuring maximum vigilance to defeat this virus.”
Meanwhile, Monday marks the easing of travel restrictions in Australia for its citizens and permanent residents who will no longer be subjected to a two-week quarantine when re-entering the country. Australians will also be able to leave the country without getting special permission.
Thailand began allowing fully vaccinated tourists into the country Monday. Thailand’s economy has been pummeled by the tourist restrictions prompted by the pandemic.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that although she is fully vaccinated, she has contracted COVID-19, adding that she is exhibiting only mild symptoms and is in quarantine. Members of her household have also tested positive, she said in a Twitter post Sunday.
Psaki did not travel to Europe with U.S. President Joe Biden, who attended the recent G-20 summit of world leaders in Rome, Italy and then flew to Glasgow, Scotland for a conference on climate change.
British health care workers began their scheme Monday to visit more than 800 schools to inoculate youngsters, 12-to-15 years old, with COVID-19 vaccines.
Vaccines Minister Maggie Throup said, “Thanks to the dedication of NHS (National Health Service) vaccine teams, we are making it as simple as possible for parents or guardians to book COVID-19 vaccines for their children.”
The Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center said Monday that nearly 7 billion vaccines have been administered worldwide.