Worst yet to come? WHO Chief says second year of COVID-19 pandemic on track to be 'far more deadly' than first

It has been over a year since the COVID-19 pandemic began, with many countries facing second and third waves of the virus. India has set new global records with its rising caseload in recent day, even as mutant strains of the virus wreak havoc. While global vaccination trackers indicate that more than 1.41 billion COVID-19 shots have been administered thus far, the situation remains far from normal.

Against this backdrop, the director-general of the World Health Organization struck a cautionary note on Friday, contending that the situation in 2021 was on track to be far more deadly than it's predecessor.

Calling of equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus Trickle on Friday said that the "trickle down vaccination" process was not an effective strategy for fighting a deadly respiratory virus.

"COVID-19 has already cost more than 3.3 million lives and we’re on track for the second year of this pandemic to be far more deadly than the first," he said. In a follow up post he highlighted the recent developments when it came to vaccine supply and nations working together to defeat the pandemic.

Over the last few weeks, India has been left reeling in the grips of a second wave of the pandemic. And as the death toll and caseload reached record highs, the health infrastructure of the country threatened to crumble in many areas. India's COVID-19 tally crossed the 10 million mark on December 19 and in under six months it has doubled, surpassing the grim milestone of 20 million cases on May 4.

"India remains hugely concerning, with several states continuing to see a worrying number of cases, hospitalisations and deaths," Ghebreyesus said at the daily media briefing. Thanking all stakeholders who have stepped up to support India with medical supplies, the WHO chief noted that the emergency-like situation was not restricted to one country. "Nepal, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Egypt are just some of the countries that are dealing with spikes in cases and hospitalisations," he said adding that some countries in the Americas still have high numbers of cases and as a region, the Americas accounted for 40 per cent of all COVID-19 deaths last week.

There are also spikes in some countries in Africa. "These countries are in heightened response mode and WHO will continue to provide support in all ways possible," he said.

(With inputs from agencies)

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