World Health Organisation (WHO) Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus warned yesterday that the COVID-19 pandemic is far from over despite a worldwide death toll of over 3.5 million and economic losses of $22 trillion.

Tedros told reporters in Geneva that new variants have been compounding explosive outbreaks.

But he said equitable access to vaccines is essential for ending the pandemic.

“Ultimately, the fastest way to bring this pandemic to an end is to dramatically increase global manufacturing of vaccines, tests, treatments and other medical supplies, and ensure equitable access,” he said.

He added: “Our “sprint to September” goal means we must vaccinate at least 250 million more people in low- and middle-income countries, including all health workers and the most at-risk groups as the first priority.

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“If countries immediately share doses with COVAX, and if manufacturers prioritize COVAX, we can reach this target and save a lot of lives.”

He invited more developers to “come forward and share life-saving tools so that we can ramp up production and expand access.”

He said: “Originator companies that contribute their knowledge to C-TAP can quickly access the production capacity they need to manufacture enough for everyone, while collecting appropriate royalties.

“Contributions to C-TAP are voluntary, transparent and non-exclusive, allowing multiple qualified producers around the world to manufacture COVID-19 health products.

“Once agreements are signed, C-TAP will support companies in the management of signed agreements for effective implementation and provide technical assistance to countries when needed.”

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