The situation in India, where COVID-19 cases have surged, is “beyond heartbreaking”, and the World Health Organization is sending extra staff and supplies there to help fight the pandemic, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Monday (April 26).
“WHO is doing everything we can, providing critical equipment and supplies, including thousands of oxygen concentrators, prefabricated mobile field hospitals and laboratory supplies,” Tedros told a briefing.
He said he had already announced 2,600 extra WHO staff members were going to India to help support the effort to fight the disease.
WHO technical lead for COVID-19 Maria Van Kerkhove said the exponential growth was “truly astonishing” and warned that it could happen in other countries.
Assistant Director-General Mariângela Batista Galvão Simão said that the WHO expects to decide whether to give emergency approval for China’s two main COVID-19 vaccines in the next two weeks.
Simao said the WHO could decide on a vaccine made by Sinopharm by the end of this week, and one made by Sinovac Biotech by the end of next week.
China has already deployed millions of doses of both vaccines at home and has exported them to many countries, particularly in Latin America, Asia and Africa.
If approved, the Chinese vaccines would be the first from a non-Western country to gain approval from the global health body.
Van Kerkhove warned that “we are still in the acute phase of this pandemic and the trajectory that we are seeing globally is incredibly worrying” adding that the re-opening of our societies must be done “in a stage way”.
“It is a fragile situation globally and we really have the element around the world with a lack of strategic and comprehensive of public health and social measures,” she added.
“There were almost as many cases globally last week as in the first five months of the pandemic,” WHO chief Tedros said.