Encouraging global signs show new COVID cases declining for the last six weeks, and deaths down for five weeks, but worldwide deaths reported last week rose in three of the World Health Organization's (WHO) six regions, the WHO chief said Monday.
"We still see a mixed picture around the world," WHO Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus told a twice-weekly press webinar in Geneva.
The number of reported deaths last week climbed in Africa, the Americas, and the Western Pacific, he added.
He also warned that with the increased global transmission of variants of concern, including the Delta one, prevalent in Britain, lifting restrictions too quickly could be "disastrous" for those not vaccinated.
Increasingly, the world sees a two-track pandemic, with many countries still in a perilous situation, while some with the highest vaccination rates are talking about ending restrictions, said Tedros.
There is a decline in mortality among older age groups in countries with the greatest access to vaccines, he explained.
"In these countries, the public health and social measures that have helped to protect people are being eased, but they must be eased cautiously and adjusted in line with viral circulation and response capacities," he said.
Not enough vaccines
Yet, in many countries, he stressed, there are not enough vaccines.
"In these countries, the continued use of tailored public health measures is the best way to suppress transmission," said Tedros.
He reiterated that the inequitable distribution of vaccines has allowed the virus to continue spreading, "increasing the chances of a variant emerging that renders vaccines less effective."
Six months since the first vaccines were administered, high-income countries have administered almost 44% of the world's jabs, while low-income countries have administered just 0.4%.
"The most frustrating thing about this statistic is that it hasn't changed in months. Inequitable vaccination is a threat to all nations, not just those with the fewest vaccines," warned Tedros.
Several countries have made significant pledges to share doses, and the WHO looks forward to those pledges being fulfilled in June and July, he said.
"At the World Health Assembly, I called for a massive global effort to vaccinate at least 10% of the population of all countries by September, and at least 30% by the end of the year," said Tedros.
Over the weekend, leaders of the economically powerful G7 countries will meet.
"I am calling on the G7 not just to commit to sharing doses, but to commit to sharing them in June and July," said Tedros.
"I also call on all manufacturers to give COVAX first right of refusal on new volumes of vaccines or to commit 50% of their volumes to COVAX this year," referring to a facility to get vaccines to less-developed countries./aa