Will 2022 be the end of Covid-19?
he past two years have been those of colossal efforts in global health.
Countries across the globe battled Covid-19, which claimed 1.8 million lives in 2020 and 3.5 million in 2021. The fatalities were most significant in the first half of 2021, but subsided as the vaccines were rolled out later in the year.
There are also millions of people dealing with long-term consequences from the highly contagious virus.
Life-saving Covid-19 vaccines were rolled out but overwhelmingly in bigger economies, locking out many vulnerable populations, especially in low income countries.
But there was a ray of hope last week on Friday, 31 December from the World Health Organization (WHO).
If current vaccination rates continue to go up, the public health agency is optimistic that the pandemic could end in 2022.
The projection comes at a time 8 billion doses of vaccine have been administered globally including first and second doses as well as booster shots.
"As we enter the third year of the Covid-19 pandemic, I'm confident that this will be the year we end it - but only if we do it together,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
He added; "While no country is out of the woods from the pandemic, we have many new tools to prevent and treat Covid-19. The longer inequity continues, the higher the risks of this virus evolving in ways we can't prevent or predict. If we end inequity, we end the pandemic".
Ghebreyesus said millions of people have missed out on routine vaccination, services for family planning, treatment for communicable and non-communicable diseases.
He further emphasized to prepare the world for future epidemics and pandemics, “We established the new WHO BioHub System for countries to share novel biological materials," the WHO head added.
The WHO chief reiterated that countries need to work together to reach the global target of vaccinating 70 percent of people in all countries by the middle of this year.
92 out of 194 Member States missed the target.
Rwanda is among the few countries in Africa that have achieved the target of vaccinating 40 percent of the entire population by December 2021.
By end the year, over 7.5 million of the targeted population aged 12 and above had received at least one dose, while over 5.3 million had received two doses and 111,681 booster shots administered.
The country uses a wide range of vaccines to vaccinate citizens against COVID-19 including Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, Sinopharm and Moderna.
The country also plans to establish a vaccine manufacturing plant this year as part of the efforts to strengthen its local health system.
The WHO boss said he was concerned that the more transmissible Omicron, circulating at the same time as Delta, is leading to “a tsunami of cases.”
Right now, Delta and Omicron are driving up cases to record numbers, leading to spikes in hospitalizations and deaths.
“This is the time to rise above short-term nationalism and protect populations and economies against future variants by ending global vaccine inequity”, he said.
“We have 185 days to the finish line of achieving 70 per cent by the start of July 2022. And the clock starts now,” he added.
According to the epidemiologist, as any new vaccine update could mean a new supply shortage, it is important to build up local manufacturing supply.
Various other leaders have made the same observation, including President Paul Kagame.
“Together we will overcome this pandemic and continue building the prosperous nation we want”, the Head of State posted on Twitter.