“The pandemic has destabilized societies, economies, and governments. It has shown that there is no global security without global health security,” World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a recent address to ambassadors and representatives to the European Union’s political and security committee.
“The fastest and best way to end this pandemic is with genuine global cooperation on vaccine supply and access,” Tedros said. “The longer vaccine inequity persists, the longer the social and economic turmoil will continue, and the more opportunity the virus has to circulate and change into more dangerous variants. We need a global realization that no country can vaccinate its way out of this pandemic in isolation from the rest of the world.”
The Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center reported Sunday it had recorded 234.6 million global COVID infections and nearly 5 million deaths.
Thousands marched Saturday in Bucharest, Romania, to protest restrictions that begin Sunday to combat a jump in coronavirus infections.
The European nation of 19 million is seeing a shocking rise in the daily number of coronavirus cases. A month ago, the number was about 1,000 new cases a day. On Saturday, Romania reported more than 12,500 new cases, its highest number since the pandemic began in March of last year.
Protesters, mostly maskless, gathered outside government offices, shouting “Freedom, freedom without certificates,” and “Down with the government,” according to Reuters. One sign read: “Green certificates = dictatorship,” The Associated Press reported.
The demonstration was organized by Romania’s far-right AUR party, the AP said.
The rising cases have strained the nation’s hospitals — intensive care beds are nearly full — and the protests angered some medical workers.
“The situation in hospitals is serious,” Beatrice Mahler, hospital manager of Bucharest’s Marius Nasta Institute of Pneumology, told The Associated Press. “We have patients hospitalized in beds in the hallway — all with extremely severe forms of COVID-19.”
The restrictions scheduled to take effect Sunday include requiring masks be worn in public, and that shops close at 10 p.m. local time.
Public spaces such as restaurants, theaters and gyms, can remain open — some at only partial capacity — for customers who have COVID-19 passes, meaning they are fully vaccinated, or show proof they have had the illness caused by the coronavirus.
Romania has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the European Union, 33.5% of all adults are fully vaccinated, second only to Bulgaria.
There is a weekend curfew in effect for unvaccinated Romanians, and there are plans to make vaccinations mandatory for health care workers, Reuters said.
Since the pandemic began, Romania has recorded nearly 1.25 million cases of COVID-19 and more than 37,000 people have died, according to Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.
Russia’s health minister, Mikhail Murashko, said Saturday that just some paperwork needs to be finished before its Sputnik V vaccine can be registered with the World Health Organization.
The shot has been approved in more than 70 countries and is used widely in Russia. If it wins approval from the WHO and the European Medicines Agency, that could make it available to other markets, Reuters said.
The WHO could not be immediately reached for comment, Reuters added.
Nicaragua has OK’d two Cuban-made vaccines for use in the Central American nation, the Cuban manufacturer, BioCubaFarma, said Saturday.
Cuba developed three coronavirus vaccines, all of which are awaiting official recognition by the WHO, Reuters reported. Nicaragua authorized Abdala and Soberana for emergency use.
Iran, Vietnam and Venezuela have also OK’d the Cuban vaccines for emergency use in their countries.
Some information for this report came from The Associated Press and Reuters.