Yesterday (Friday) the World Health Organization announced that the number of deaths caused by the (Covid-19) pandemic is two or three times greater than the official figures attributed to the epidemic. On the occasion of the issuance of its annual report on global health statistics, the organization stated that (Covid-19) caused three million deaths in 2020, whether directly or indirectly, while official figures indicate about 1.8 million deaths. Samira Asma, Assistant Director-General of the Health Organization in charge of data, said during a press conference that this toll “matches similar estimates, which all state that the total number of deaths is at least two to three times greater than what was officially reported.” The official indicated that the epidemic has so far caused, according to WHO figures, “about six to eight million” direct and indirect deaths, according to what was quoted by the French Press Agency. She stressed that “the Covid epidemic poses a great threat to the health and well-being of peoples throughout the world,” explaining that the Health Organization was working with countries “to show the true human outcome of the epidemic so that we are better prepared for the next emergency.”
Ways to avoid a new disaster
Member states of the World Health Organization will hold a meeting next week to search for ways to avoid a health catastrophe similar to the (Covid-19) pandemic.
The Director-General of the Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, considered this seventy-fourth world health assembly, which is held virtually as happened last year from May 24 to June 1, “without a doubt, it is one of the most important associations in the history of the World Health Organization.” It is expected that many leaders will speak during the meeting, with the aim of discussing the world’s inappropriate response to the (Covid-19) epidemic, and developing a plan to confront other epidemics in the future. The great challenge remains to reform the World Health Organization, which has reached its maximum potential as a result of (Covid-19). Several countries, especially European ones, are calling for a stronger organization capable of carrying out independent investigations and financially prepared for that. Currently, only 16 percent of the budget comes from mandatory contributions from states, and the rest from voluntary contributions from donors in the public and private sectors who decide the conditions attached to them.
European Health Passport
In another context, the European Union countries have reached an agreement that allows every person residing in one of the 27 countries to obtain a digital health pass that proves either that he has received the vaccine or a negative test result for (Covid-19), or is evidence of his recovery from his recent infection with the virus. “This is an important step towards resuming free movement in the European Union, as safe as possible, while clarifying matters for our citizens and reassuring them,” said European Health Commissioner Stella Kerikides.
In this context, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez announced yesterday that his country, which was the second largest tourist destination in the world before the epidemic, will allow “all” who received the vaccine to enter its territory from June 7, regardless of their country of origin. In a speech at the International Trade Fair, Sanchez said that the British, who usually constitute the largest group of tourists in Spain, will allow them to come freely from their country from Monday, while only trips that are considered “necessary” will be allowed. It is expected that the health certificate will be on the agenda of the leaders summit scheduled for next Monday and Tuesday in Brussels. Parliament is supposed to ratify the agreement at its next plenary session scheduled from 7 to 10 June in Strasbourg.
While this health document is considered a tool to save the European season of summer holidays, the director of the European branch of the World Health Organization warned Thursday that progress against the pandemic is still “fragile”, and that international travel must still be avoided.