COVID-19 accelerated fragilities in world: Red Cross chief

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New Delhi/Davos, Jan 25 (PTI) The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated and exacerbated fragilities in the world and a big challenge is to reach 60-70 million people in the world who live in areas not covered by any government authority, International Committee of Red Cross President Peter Maurer said on Monday.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum's online Davos Agenda Summit, he said the COVID-19 has again shown that the pandemics hit the hardest whenever health systems have failed.

'This is the first lesson. We have to fix those systems and not just respond short-term or temporarily,' he said.

He was speaking at a session on 'Responding to the COVID-19 Crisis', also attended by Apollo Hospitals Enterprise Executive Vice Chairperson Shobana Kamineni, among others.

'We must remember that between 60-70 million people in the world live in areas not reached by any ministry of health and government authorities. So for us, success also lies in reaching those areas because pandemics do not and cannot differentiate between the areas,' Maurer said.

Kamineni said COVID-19 has been something that no one has seen ever in a lifetime.

'It is like we have lived ten or more lifetimes over this last one year,' she added.

Also, COVID-19 might not have killed so many or infected, but it certainly destroyed many lives in different ways, she said.

'We are seeing the second-order effects that COVID-19 brought. People have fallen into poverty. I think that today that is the second crisis that many countries especially ours are dealing with,' she said.

Close to 10 crore people have been infected while more than 21 lakh have died due to COVID-19 since its outbreak was first reported in late 2019 in China.

She said the best thing that came out during this pandemic was that the world started collaborating, not just for vaccines, but for various protocols and medicines.

'This was a time when people shared much more freely,' Kamineni said.

She also said supply is not a problem in India with regard to vaccines, as the country has traditionally been a global manufacturing hub for medicines. The big problem for us is going to be how can we actually get it out there.

But, fundamentally it will all depend on how to contain the pandemic and how to continue with strict social distancing, lockdowns, masking etc, Kamineni said.

'We have had success with polio, but I think this has a six-month expiry and so it is going to be a bigger effort and a bigger challenge. I think even if one vaccine expires, it is just wasting a life, so to me, that is a big point,' she added. PTI BJ BJ BJ