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WHO DG Remarks For COVID-19 Press Briefing

One year ago, the first death from COVID-19 was reported and WHO issued its first tranche of technical guidance. A year on, there have been almost 2 million deaths from the COVID-19 virus and while we are hopeful about the safe and effective vaccines that are being rolled out, we want to see this sped up and vaccines allocated equitably in the coming weeks.

Next week at the WHO Executive Board, I will be encouraging all countries to fulfill their pledges to COVAX. WHO continues to ask vaccine manufacturers from around the world to move swiftly to provide the necessary data that will allow us to consider them for emergency use listings.  

Over the weekend, WHO was notified by Japan about a new variant of the virus. What’s most critical is that we sequence the virus effectively so we know how it’s changing and how to respond.  Last week, WHO released a comprehensive implementation guide and risk-monitoring framework to help countries set up high-impact sequencing programmes. We call on all countries to increase the sequencing of the virus to supplement ongoing surveillance, monitoring and testing efforts.  

We are pleased that an international team of scientists – distinguished experts from ten institutions and countries – are commencing their travel to China to engage in and review scientific research with their Chinese counterparts on the origins of the virus.  

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