This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.
Ghana receives first historic shipment of COVID-19 vaccine from COVAX
Six hundred thousand 600,000 doses of lifesaving COVID-19 vaccine from the UN-partnered COVAX initiative have arrived in Ghana, marking a historic first for the international equitable inoculation effort.
Confirming the news on Wednesday, the World Health Organization, WHO, said that further supplies of the AstraZeneca/Oxford jab will reach Cote d’Ivoire later this week.
These are the first coronavirus shots from the COVAX scheme to be distributed outside India, where the vaccine is being produced under licence.
Further supplies will be shipped to the other members as the global rollout gathers pace, when readiness criteria have been met and the doses produced.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the UN health agency, welcomed the development, along with COVAX partners Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI).
But Tedros insisted that there was still “a lot of work to do” to secure support for the World Health Organization’s goal of giving the vaccine to all health workers and older people in the first 100 days of the year.
In order for new coronavirus doses to be delivered to COVAX participants, the criteria which need to be fulfilled include confirmation of national regulatory authorisations for the vaccine in question, national vaccination plans, and export and import licences.
COVID deaths down 20 per cent in a week, infections see 11 per cent decrease
The number of people dying from the new coronavirus fell 20 per cent in a week, the third consecutive week of declining numbers, the World Health Organization (WHO) has said.
Some 66,000 deaths were reported last week, the UN health agency said in its latest report on the disease, with the number of COVID-19 fatalities slowing in all regions, apart from the Western Pacific, where there was a six per cent increase.
The update also noted that new infections were down by 11 per cent over the same period, with a total of four out of six regions reporting lower numbers of new cases – except for South-East Asia and the Eastern Mediterranean regions, which saw small increases (two per cent and seven per cent respectively).
In total, there have been 110.7 million cases of COVID-19 and more than 2.4 million deaths since the start of the pandemic.
In the past week, the five countries reporting the highest number of new cases have continued to be the United States, Brazil, France, Russia and India.
New wave of tech inequality warning: UNCTAD
Finally, a call from UN trade and development researchers UNCTAD which has urged all countries to embrace new technologies that have become popular during the pandemic – or else face even greater inequalities than before.
The warning, which is highlighted in a new UNCTAD report published on Wednesday, relates to all things digital and connective: artificial intelligence, big data, blockchain, 5G, 3D printing, robotics, drones, gene editing, nanotechnology and solar energy.
It’s an estimated $350 billion market today but it is likely to be worth over $3 trillion by 2025 – hence the need for developing countries to invest in training and infrastructure to be part of it, said UNCTAD’s Shamika Sirimanne, head of Division on Technology and Logistics.
Most of the technology advances are created in China and the US “but all countries will be affected by it”, Sirimanne said, warning that “almost none” of the developing countries studied for the report were prepared for the consequences.
Daniel Johnson, UN News.