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Unequal Covid jabs roll-out immoral, stupid: UN

Published : 08 Oct 2021 09:24 PM | Updated : 09 Oct 2021 04:40 PM

UN chief Antonio Guterres on Thursday branded rich nations' vaccine hogging as immoral and stupid, saying choking off poorer countries' access to jabs risked undermining their own defences against the pandemic.

The World Health Organization said every country that had fully immunised more than 40 percent of its population was doing too little to stop the Covid-19 crisis, as they should be ensuring doses go to nations left wide open to the virus.

The WHO wanted 10 percent of the population in every country fully jabbed by the end of September -- a target missed in 56 countries, "through no fault of their own", said the organisation's chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

The UN health agency said 1.5 billion vaccine doses were now being manufactured every month -- with less than one week's production needed to reach the 10 percent target.

"Vaccine inequality is aiding and abetting the Covid-19 pandemic," Guterres told a virtual press conference alongside Tedros.

"It is allowing variants to develop and run wild, condemning the world to millions more deaths, and prolonging an economic slowdown that could cost trillions of dollars."

Guterres said that if the virus spread in areas with few vaccinated people, the greater the chances of a variant emerging that could become resistant to vaccines.

"All the vaccination effort made in developed countries to vaccinate the whole of the population, one, two or three times -- all that effort will fall apart. And these people will not be protected.

 "So not to have equitable distribution of vaccines is not only a question of being immoral: it is also a question of being stupid."

 Tedros said more than 6.4 billion vaccine doses had now been administered, and almost a third of the world's population was fully vaccinated against Covid-19.

However, "those numbers mask a horrifying inequity," he said.

"We stand on the precipice of failure" if vaccines are not immediately made widely available, the director-general said.

Tedros said there were enough doses being produced to achieve the WHO's next target of seeing 40 percent in every country vaccinated by the end of the year -- provided they are distributed equitably.

Meanwhile Tedros also announced that the WHO had now finalised a clinical case definition for post-Covid-19 condition, often called Long Covid.

The definition states that symptoms appear within three months of infection, last for at least two months and cannot be explained by an alternative diagnosis.

Common symptoms include fatigue, shortness of breath and cognitive dysfunction. They may appear following recovery from acute-stage Covid-19, or persist from the initial illness. Symptoms may also fluctuate over time.

"This standardised definition will help clinicians to identify patients more easily and provide them the appropriate care, and is crucial for advancing recognition and research," Tedros said.

Bangabandhu Satellite-2 to be launched in due time

Staff Correspondent

The Posts and Telecommunications Division has begun work to launch Bangabandhu Satellite-2 into space, activate the 5G network and connect the third submarine cable in due time.

This was promised to the nation in the election manifesto and it will be fulfilled. 

Posts and Telecommunications minister Mustafa Jabbar made the comments while speaking at a discussion meeting organized by Bangladesh Satellite Company Limited (BSCL) at Hotel Intercontinental in the capital on Thursday night to mark the 2nd anniversary of the launch of private satellite TV channels through Bangabandhu Satellite-1.

The minister said, "By launching Bangabandhu Satellite-1 in space, we have not only been commended for being the 57th satellite launcher in the world, but we are also very proud to provide uninterrupted satellite services with technical support to our people in the last two years."

The minister referred to 2021 as the year of transformation of Bangladesh into Digital Bangladesh as per the PM’s declaration on December 12, 2008. 

Mustafa Jabbar said, “The defeated enemies of the liberation war stopped the country’s forward march after killing Bangabandhu and his family. After 21 years of mishaps, PM Sheikh Hasina transformed the seed planted by Bangabandhu to establish Digital Bangladesh from 1996 to 2001.”

Thanking the TV channel owners for conducting broadcasting activities through this satellite, the minister said, “We are all proud to be able to use our country's satellites. Under the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, all preparations have been completed to complete the launch of the country's second satellite within the stipulated time.” 

The minister emphasized on the cordial relations between BSCL and television channels. At the end of the discussion, a short cultural program was presented.

Information Minister Hasan Mahmud addressed the meeting as the chief guest. Dr Shahjahan Mahmud, Chairman of BSCL presided over the function. Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister, Dr Ahmad Kaikaus, Posts and Telecommunications Secretary Mohammad Afzal Hossain and Association of Television Channel Owners (ATCO) President Anjan Chowdhury were present among others.

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