United Nations chief Antonio Guterres on Monday warned that the COVID-19 pandemic is not the last of its kind and that people should take measures to prevent such crises in the future.
"COVID19 will not be the last pandemic humanity will face. As we respond to this health crisis, we need to prepare for the next one. On this International Day of Epidemic Preparedness, let's give this issue the focus, attention and investment it deserves," UN Secretary-General Guterres said in a tweet.
The first-ever International Day of Epidemic Preparedness was marked on December 27 last year after the UN and the World Health Organization (WHO) agreed on the need to advocate the need for preparedness for and prevention of epidemics.
During a press briefing last week, the Director-General of the WHO had warned that blanket COVID-19 vaccine booster programmes could prolong the pandemic and increase inequity,
"No country can boost its way out of the pandemic," said WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, speaking in Geneva during his final press briefing for the year. "And boosters cannot be seen as a ticket to go ahead with planned celebrations, without the need for other precautions," he added.
The WHO Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (SAGE) has issued interim guidance on booster doses, expressing concern that mass programmes for countries that can afford them, will exacerbate vaccine inequity.
Reflecting on the past year, Tedros reported that more people died from COVID-19 in 2021 than from HIV, malaria and tuberculosis combined, in 2020.
Coronavirus killed 3.5 million people this year, and continues to claim some 50,000 lives each week.