Political and public support for vaccination must continue to be promoted, while acknowledging that vaccination alone will not end the pandemic. It is imperative that countries with a surplus of doses share them with the COVAX Facility, which aims to deliver 2 billion doses to participating low-and middle-income countries globally by the end of 2021.
We must all do our part. False rumours and misinformation can increase risk-taking behaviours, facilitate disease transmission, and intensify or lengthen an outbreak. They can cause confusion and erode social trust, which is among the most important elements of any outbreak response.
Before sharing information, consider its source, and whether the information is verified and reliable. Be an ambassador of high-quality information, which can be accessed online via WHO’s website and social media accounts, and those of national and local authorities.
No person or community can be left behind. Across the world, Covid-19 has disproportionately impacted key demographics, who for a range of social and economic reasons, may be more susceptible to transmission, or may struggle to access health care. This is not only inequitable, but also inefficient.
In all countries of the Region, equity must continue to be a core feature of Covid-19 decision-making, whether on access to testing and treatment, or the provision of social and economic protection.
We must go hard, and go all out. Since the beginning of the pandemic, WHO has provided countries in the region critical guidance and support, which has in recent months included thousands of oxygen concentrators, millions of respirator masks, and a series of auxiliary health facilities.
Thousands of staff have been repurposed in support of national response efforts. Countries in the region continue to reap life-saving benefits from the Access to Covid-19 Tools Accelerator, which is the fastest, most
coordinated, and successful global collaboration in history to accelerate the development, production, and equitable access to Covid-19 tests, treatments, and vaccines.
It is only through solidarity, and by sustaining region-wide resolve, that we can drive infection down, prepare for and prevent new waves, and bring evidence-based treatments and technologies to all who need them. Lives and livelihoods are at stake. We must all stay the course.
Poonam Khetrapal Singh is the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Director for South-East Asia.