Omicron ‘ultimate evidence’ of danger from vaccine inequity: Red Cross

The emergence of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus is the “ultimate evidence” of the danger of unequal vaccination rates around the world, the head of the Red Cross said on Friday.,

The emergence of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus is the “ultimate evidence” of the danger of unequal vaccination rates around the world, the head of the Red Cross said on Friday.

“The scientific community has warned the international community on several occasions about the risks of very new variants in places where there is a very low rate of vaccinations,” Francesco Rocca, the president of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, told AFP in an interview in Moscow.

About 65 percent of people in high-income countries have had at least one dose of vaccine against the coronavirus, but just over seven percent in low-income countries, UN numbers show.

Western countries have been accused of hoarding vaccines and the WHO has urged them to avoid a rush to give out booster shots when millions worldwide have yet to receive a single dose.

“This is a selfish approach coming from the Western community, this is really a blind approach,” Rocca said.

“It’s unbelievable that we are still not realising how much we are interconnected. This is why I call the Omicron variant the ultimate evidence.”

Omicron, a heavily mutated version of the coronavirus, was first reported in South Africa on November 24 and is now present in more than two dozen countries.

It has sparked a wave of travel bans, cast the global economic recovery into doubt and led to warnings that it could cause more than half of Europe’s COVID cases in the next few months.

“It is essential and vital to identify new solutions, to find an end to the pandemic, and the only way is to vaccinate, so access for everyone, everwhere,” Rocca said.


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(C) 2021 AFP

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