Global GoalsCast is invited to an exclusive briefing on Covid-19 for global health leaders. The Covid-19 situation is more sobering today than at any time in the pandemic, Dr. David Nabarro, special envoy of the World Health Organization, informs the group. India is the challenge now, he reports. But where will the problem be tomorrow? “I don’t know,” he warns.
Nabarro notes that some wealthy countries are trying to vaccinate their way out of the pandemic, even planning for the vaccination of children. But there is not yet enough vaccine to protect the world. So the right thing to do is use vaccine to protect the most vulnerable first, wherever they are and rely on non-pharmaceutical tools, like distancing, masks and washing, to curb the spread.
Also featured in this episode is Dr. Jonathan Fitzsimon, a family physician in Ontario, Canada and the inspiring music of Nazeem, whose ballad, Respect, honors frontline workers and encourages everyone to abide by public health measures. You can support Nazeem’s music at GoFundMe.com, One World Covid Ready Response.
Dr. David Nabarro is a Special Envoy of the World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General on COVID-19 and Co-Director of the Imperial College Institute of Global Health Innovation at the Imperial College London. As Strategic Director of 4SD, a social enterprise based in Geneva, Switzerland, he and his team have been offering Open Online Briefings since the beginning of the pandemic. More at: https://www.4sd.info/
This episode of Global GoalsCast was made possible by listeners like you, who care about the future. We survive on your support, so like us, subscribe and give us all the stars you can.
David Nabarro is the Co-Director of the Imperial College Institute of Global Health Innovation at the Imperial College London and supports systems leadership for sustainable development through his Switzerland based social enterprise 4SD. From March 2020, Mr. Nabarro is appointed Special Envoy of WHO Director General on COVID-19.
In October 2018, he received the World Food Prize together with Lawrence Haddad for their leadership in raising the profile and building coalitions for action for better nutrition across the Sustainable Development Goals.
Dr. Jonathan Fitzsimon is a family physician in Ontario, Canada. He is the Medical Lead of the COVID-19 Virtual Triage and Assessment Centre in Renfrew County.
Dr. Fitzsimon is an Assistant Professor at the University of Ottawa, Department of Family Medicine, with an interest in virtual care as a means of improving access to primary care to rural, remote and under services communities.
In collaboration with:
Dr. David Nabarro 0:02
India is the problem now. But last month, the situation was very serious in Brazil. Where is it going to be next? I don’t know.
Last week, I told you that the predominant feeling that I was hearing was one of fear. Now, what I hear is increasing frustration. Should any country be trying to vaccinate its way out of the pandemic, at this time, when it’s raging so fiercely? And when we have such massive suffering in so many parts of the world? I mean, for me, it’s not even a tricky moral question. It’s a no brainer. You go to where it’s needed the most. People are the solution. And there are so many 1000s of examples of people working together and doing extraordinary things to get ahead of this virus and keep it at bay.
Edie Lush 1:11
Welcome to the Global GoalsCast.
Claudia Romo Edelman 1:13
The podcast that explores how we can change the world.
Edie Lush 1:17
In this episode, the pandemic surges around the globe,
Claudia Romo Edelman 1:21
health workers are frustrated and furious.
Edie Lush 1:25
Exactly Global Goals cast was invited to sit in on an exclusive update of the efforts to control the pandemic. And the news is not good.
Dr. David Nabarro 1:36
Well, it’s a sobering story today, it feels even more concerning. I think that in any other time since this pandemic started. It’s concerning because of the level of suffering. It’s concerning, in a way, because there’s so much suffering, it’s sometimes hard to feel it. And I think we all now know people that have been taken from us by COVID when we weren’t expecting to go. And it’s concerning, perhaps most of all to me, because I still don’t sense that real wish the world leaders to truly work together.
Claudia Romo Edelman 2:23
That was Dr. David Navarro, adviser to the World Health Organisation who had a blunt message for the world.
Dr. David Nabarro 2:30
Humanity is a family. And I would really hope that our leaders can find ways to demonstrate this. It’s no excuse to say my constituents want me just to focus on them. My answer is short and sharp. Your constituents are not safe unless the world is safe. Just move away from that old fashioned notion that you create a ring around your country and stop viruses from coming in. It doesn’t work like that. You can’t cheat these viruses out even with the strictest border controls, you can slow them, but you can’t stop them.
Edie Lush 3:15
When we come back, we will hear a full briefing on the pandemic from Dr. David Nabaro, including why the rich world is following the wrong vaccine strategy.
Dr. David Nabarro 3:25
It’s not even viable in public health terms right now to be considering vaccines as the way to end the pandemic. I’m just a bit frustrated that I’m not able to get this message across.
Unknown Speaker 3:43
This episode of Global GoalsCast is brought to you by our listeners. That’s right, listeners like you who care about the future. Please spread the word. Tell your friends about Global GoalsCast, hit the like and subscribe and give us five stars. Thanks also to CBS News Digital and Universal Production Music.
Claudia Romo Edelman 4:07
Welcome back. I’m Claudia Romo Edelman.
Edie Lush 4:10
And I’m Edie Lush, Claudia. David Nabarro is one of the towering figures in global public health.
Claudia Romo Edelman 4:16
Yes, indeed. He is my former boss.
Edie Lush 4:19
When was he your boss?
Claudia Romo Edelman 4:21
He was leading the Sustainable Development Goals, the 2030 agenda when I came to work at the Executive Office of the Secretary General of the United Nations, and he was not only doing the SDGs advancement and climate change, but also leading public health. And as a fact, he was very close to being the new director of the WHO at that time. He knows so much and he explains it all so clearly.
Edie Lush 4:48
Hmm. Interesting. So that is why we were thrilled when he invited us to attend his regular briefing for other public health leaders. Many of these people have worked together for years and you’ll hear one of their comments. Since this was their informal gathering, you’ll also hear David Nabarro’s notes rustling from time to time, a small distraction for the privilege of sitting in with our microphones.
Unknown Speaker 5:13
This is a real privilege and an opportunity to be able to be part of the visions of David Nabarro and to share it with all of you listening to the Global GoalsCast.
Dr. David Nabarro 5:23
how’d you do,
Unknown Speaker 5:24
The group of about 30 gathered on a Zoom this past Friday from all over the world. Dr. Nabarro started with an update on the spread of the virus.
Dr. David Nabarro 5:34
What is most important is you’re all here. Welcome. And thank you for joining. Special shout out to colleagues from the Global GoalsCast team, thank you for being with us.
Perhaps what’s most disturbing to me is the way in which the pandemic is causing such enormous number of people to get seriously ill and to suffer. And sometimes to die a very public and painful death is particularly the case in India during the last week. The reports that we’ve had suggest increasing numbers of people seeking medical care and unable to get it. Oxygen tankers in Delhi have got military and police escorts at this time. In many, many parts of India, intensive care units are full. The currently reported bed occupancy rate in New Delhi is 100%. Which means that those who are ill at the moment are finding it very hard to get treatment anywhere, even if they’re very senior people in powerful positions. They’re struggling. I don’t know about you, but I’ve heard myself of 12 people who I’m connected to and have worked with professionally, dying in the last week. Many of the people that I work with on other assignments have been ill with COVID in the Indian subcontinent. It’s widespread. And yet India is the problem now. Linked to Nepal, Sri Lanka, the Maldives, but last month, and it’s still there now to a degree, the situation was very serious in Brazil. Where is it going to be next? I don’t know.
But my colleagues in WHO tell me that they’re expecting to see these very sharp rises in numbers of people with COVID in many more countries in the coming months. And these will be countries with high numbers of people who are poor, with very limited access to vaccine. In addition, the countries that are being affected now will find it very hard to go into lengthy lockdowns. That’s because in each of these situations where there are a lot of people who are poor, who are in the informal economy or on daily wages a lockdown leads to an immediate reduction in income. And unless there’s very well established social protection measures, there are going to be people who go hungry, children who get malnourished very quickly once the lockdown is introduced. So despite the very high levels of disease being reported in the Indian subcontinent, there is a reluctance to introduce lockdowns despite the fact that many public health experts have asked for it. Actually, I just heard a few minutes ago, just before I came on, that the state of Maharashtra, That’s the state where Bombay is, Mumbai is, that that has introduced a lockdown for two weeks just now. But I know that that was extremely difficult choice for the chief minister to make. So the situation in India is particularly serious. And one that I think requires all of us, all of us to focus on because we’re likely to see similar kinds of challenges in many other settings.
The outbreak curve continues to show increasing numbers of cases reported to WHO from around the world with a massive increase particularly coming from South Asia. And yet, all the evidence we have suggests that the numbers of cases in different countries right now are far greater than what’s being reported. How do we know that? Well, if you assess the numbers of tests that are positive, and divide that by the total numbers of tests undertaken, you end up with a figure called the test positivity rate.
Unknown Speaker 10:05
Dr. Nabarro taught us a bit of public health math, which boiled down to one reality. Health systems in many countries are missing many, many cases because they don’t conduct enough tests.
Dr. David Nabarro 10:18
Normally, we expect a test positivity rate in the midst of a intense COVID response to be of the order of 3 to 5%. And yet, we may look at test positivity rates from around the world, we find that in many countries, they are much, much higher. So for example, in Nepal, the test positivity rate, it’s been reported at around 30%. In parts of India, it is 15 to 20%. And those sorts of figures suggest that there’s a lot more disease than is being recorded. Perhaps we’ll talk a little bit about the factors that are leading to these rapid rises. Firstly, the big rises in numbers that have occurred in countries around the world have come when movement is restarted, particularly if it’s restarted quickly. And there are events like religious festivals, sports festivals, music events, or political events that bring together people indoors or outdoors. Quite often, the transmission actually happens inside the small rooms where people meet, perhaps to have refreshments or cloakroom areas or something like that. But it’s these crowding events that tend to be associated with big increases in transmission. And then, if there’s a reduction in adherence to public health and social measures, that linked to the people meeting together will lead to increases in transmission. A low vaccine prevalence will inevitably mean that a lot of the people who are susceptible and get COVID will die. But you should not equate low vaccine prevalence to inability to defend against the virus. No, you defend against the virus through the non pharmaceutical measures, backed up by public health. You protect people from dying through vaccination. But we should not in any setting say that the severity of the problem is due to lack of access to vaccine. And I need to say this because we’ve colleagues asked me, What do we do in situations where incidence is rising very rapidly? First of all, I say, physical distancing is an absolute must, one metre minimum, two metres ideal. Wearing face masks when in contact with other people is an absolute must. Well-fitting face masks, practising good hygiene is an absolute must. And isolation, particularly those who are suspected of having COVID from the moment they’re suspected of having COVID. And its strict isolation is an absolute must. That’s the basic message. There isn’t another narrative. There’s only one narrative. And that is, we get on top of this virus through the way we behave. And we can be supported to behave well by public health, and indeed, by the way government behaves. But if we don’t behave in ways that make it hard for this virus to move around, it will spread. And if we meet up together a lot, and are close to each other, and basically ignore the precautions that have been advised. Because our political leaders tell us it’s a clever thing to do, or somesuch. Then we’ll get caught, then our grandparents and our parents will die. It’s as simple as that.
Let me just give you a bit more colour on what I’m seeing around the world. So India accounted for nearly half of all the new reported COVID cases reported worldwide last week. One in four of the deaths were reported from India. We are told that the average age of people in Indian hospitals being treated from COVID has dropped by about 20 years. And now if you’re going to Indian hospitals get more and more young people in them and younger people are dying. Other countries in the region like Malaysia are repatriating their now nationals from India. A number of countries closed borders with India and have stopped flights to and from India. It’s overall, a very disturbing situation. And I’m sure for anybody who’s either in India or connected with people in India, or Nepal, or Bangladesh or Sri Lanka or the Maldives, You’re all hearing these stories of widespread suffering.
Let’s just focus on Nepal. Colleagues tell me that numbers of people sick are rising rapidly and test capacity is extremely limited. There’s not very much knowledge of what’s happening outside Kathmandu, the capital city. But the viruses everywhere, it’s just been reported indeed from Everest base camp, and from other rural locations in Nepal. Very hard indeed, to establish exactly what the situation is. We go to Brazil. More than 400,000 people in Brazil have died as a result COVID. That’s an enormous number. It’s the second highest death toll of any country in the world. And the pain is spreading to other South American countries; Peru, Colombia, Bolivia, Argentina, Venezuela, they’re all in crisis mode. Many of the continents leaders feel that Brazil has become a kind of centrifuge, and that people with disease are travelling to other countries and are perhaps also taking variants with them. Turkey has had a big increase in numbers of cases recently. First lockdown that Turkey has imposed has just been introduced. Is a particular challenge in Istanbul. But now, cases have begun to appear in Ankara.
Let’s go to the Caribbean. This was a part of the world that had mercifully been spared of the worst of COVID last year. But in Trinidad, and in Guyana, two of the most southerly but resource-rich nations in the CARICOM community are monitoring severe spikes in COVID-19 cases right now. They’re seeing a worrying increase in deaths. And when I talked to colleagues in the Caribbean, they told me that their hospitals just are not able to cope with the current demand, and they will certainly not be able to cope if the demand increases. It looks likely that Jamaica and even Trinidad may decide to ban all of its citizens who are abroad in places where there is COVID from entering the island because of the extreme worries that mutant strains, variants of concerns will arrive and greatly increase the challenge.
Let’s go to Africa. I’m hearing reports from my colleagues who work in Africa of particularly troubling situations. There are particular challenges in Angola, in Cameroon, in Cape Verde in Eritrea, in Congo, Brazzaville, Equitorial Guinea, Seychelles, and South Africa. All countries which are reporting unexpected increases in levels of illness and death. And quite often in those settings, it is actually neat cemeteries, that you see that the problem is most serious, there’s a sudden upsurge in the number of people who need to be buried.
And the problem in Africa is that there are variants of concern being detected in a number of countries, particularly in Uganda and in Kenya. Only 1% of the world’s vaccines have been administered in Africa. It will be many months, possibly years before the people of Africa are able to enjoy the same degree of vaccine cover as the people of the UK. But in the meantime, if we look at the current projections, there are going to be spikes and surges in many African nations. This is leading the African Union and the leaders of African nations to be particularly concerned. They’re not waiting around and working independently. They’re coming together with an African Union summit on Monday, to consider how the continent can work together to address COVID collectively. In Zambia, just as an example, in their increasing numbers of cases, but there there’s been a huge mobilisation of non governmental organisations. Some of them really working hard on trying to ensure that communities are engaged in the response, some of them also working on vaccine hesitancy. At the 65th meeting of the Commission on the Status of Women, Dr. Choolwe Jacobs, who’s the leader and founder of the Zambian chapter of women in global health, highlighted her experience with working with grassroots women’s movements, in building solidarity and responding to the pandemic, and addressing vaccine equity. Women, she says, particularly in low and middle income countries, including in Zambia, just do not have access to tests. Many of them lack knowledge about testing. And they have very little understanding of what to do when facing the virus. And so there is a view from Dr. Jacobs and from others, that the real approach that must be taken forward in Africa is one which is focusing on empowerment of communities and getting community involvement. Dr. Jacobs says that empowered women, community health workers, in her experience can play a huge role in scaling up testing to ensure that it is available to everyone, and then encouraging for people to access testing, which normally they would not do.
Last week, I told you that the predominant feeling that I was hearing, even from the WHO specialists was one of fear. Now, what I hear is increasing frustration. Why? Because they say it’s avoidable. All this death is avoidable, these 400,000 people dying in Brazil, not all of them needed to die. And Brazil is an advanced country, they shouldn’t have died. India is an advanced country. This degree of suffering and death in India does not need to occur. Because actually, we know very, very well how to hold this virus at bay. The only thing is that if leaders start saying that you can defeat the virus through willpower, they may be misleading their populations. So fear has moved to frustration. And in some cases, I have to say to you, frustration is replaced by or augmented by fury. And that fury is because there are people who are working flat out, day and night, to try to enable all societies to work together to combat this virus. They’re encouraging a coordinated and combined approach across nations. And yet, it’s not happening. And these are people who are committed to saving lives, and who are watching as the numbers of deaths tick up week, by week, by week. 15,000 deaths in the last 24 hours, 3,236,000 deaths since the pandemic started. And we know that the deaths are being undercounted. I get text messages, Whatsapp messages all the time, telling me it’s much more than you say. People are the solution. And there are so many thousands of examples of people working together and doing extraordinary things to get ahead of this virus and keep it at bay. And we all know about them. Are governments actually helping their people to do it? Well, in most cases they are, the most governments have got it right. But there are still a few governments that seem somehow to miss the point. They don’t treat this as a global issue. They treat it as a local issue. They don’t treat it as an issue which requires a human rights approach in which everyone has the right to health. They behave as though their citizens have more of a right than others. And there are some governments that are just finding it absolutely impossible to talk civilly to the governments of neighbouring countries about how to deal with a pandemic. Is that helping their people? I don’t think so. So, I’m increasing my efforts to focus on the purpose of the response, which is to ensure an equitable response that meets the needs of everyone everywhere, but with those with greatest need being at the front of the queue, and not those with the most money.
Secondly, I’m saying that the response must therefore be characterised by fairness and equity above all else. Thirdly, I’m arguing that the response needs to be unified, and not separate. And I’m saying the response must be integrated, and not based on just single interventions, because it’s a systems response that is necessary. Now, I had been talking with you about hairos trying to advocate for a global programme. But the more I’m watching what’s going on, the more I see that life is dominated by people wanting to show their interest in dealing with COVID through sound bites, through statements made, and really not through actually working together on how to get it done. So I’m actually encouraging now, each leader to commit to a unified, fair and integrated response to COVID everywhere. And I’m seeing whether it’s going to be possible, instead of talking about a programme to at least encourage more and more commitments to fairness and unity in action. And if we can get enough commitments, then there is a possibility of having a situation of accountability, where leaders can be called to account for whether or not they are fulfilling their commitments. If they won’t worked together on a programme, if they won’t work together on COVAX, if they won’t work together on vaccine sharing if they won’t worked together on data sharing, let’s at least start to see who really is wanting to work for a global response. And let’s seek commitments. I’m not sure exactly whether we’ll be able to get them in a lot depends on how people react to the positioning of Dr. Tedross and the UN Secretary General, Mr. Guterres in the run up to the World Health Assembly, which takes place at the end of May. Are they going to focus on a pandemic treaty, supposedly preparing the world for the next pandemic? I hope that that won’t be what dominates attention, because I’d like to say to the world, we’re 18 months into the current pandemic, and it’s worse than ever, surely, that’s where our attention should be focused. On they going to spend time just proclaiming how great they are about supporting COVAX, and at the same time, refuse to accept responsibility for sucking up millions more doses of vaccine and leaving Kovacs empty for quarter two? I wonder. I think if they commit to fairness in the response, they must be held to account for gobbling up vaccines, putting them into cold stores, and then waiting to perhaps they might be needed for booster doses later this year. That’s 40 million doses not available for poor countries. And that adds to the inequity. So I shall be encouraging a commitment for leaders from governments, leaders from local authority, leaders from business, leaders from civil society, leaders from professional organisations, committing and being accountable for that commitment to unified, fair, integrated responses everywhere.
Edie Lush 28:50
Dr. Nabarro asked colleagues for their current concerns about the pandemic. One of those was john Fitzsimmons, an expert in curbing infectious diseases.
John Fitzsimmons 28:59
It’s in the context of vaccine equity. I live and work in Canada, I’m connected to the news media in the US and my family and friends are in the UK, three countries who have diverted their entire energy to vaccinating the entire population as a way out of this pandemic. And you could throw in now hoarding or holding booster shots for later in the year into this equation as well. You know, those three countries, their combined population is less than a quarter of that of India. But we’re now talking about vaccinating children as a priority.
Dr. David Nabarro 29:39
Of course, if I were the chief medical officer of the UK, and I wanted to suppress the circulation of the virus through widespread vaccination, I’d have to vaccinate children because there’s abundant evidence that the virus is transmitted between children who don’t get so ill, but then it’s brought to the adults, and that in turn can lead to severe illness or even death. And so, if you are using vaccination as your primary strategy for reducing the pandemic, then you’ll need to cover the children as well. But should you? Should any country be trying to vaccinate its way out of the pandemic, at this time when it’s raging so fiercely? And when we have such massive suffering in so many parts of the world? I mean, for me, it’s not even a tricky moral question, It’s a no brainer. You go to where it’s needed the most. And you defer taking delivery on vaccines now, if you’ve already got enough in stock, and you release those vaccines, so they can go into COVAX. COVAX is not a system for giving to the poor, by the way, as it’s sometimes portrayed in the media. COVAX is a system that was set up at the request of world governments to enable the proper sharing of vaccine between countries around the world. And in fact, COVAX is designed for all nations, because of countries used it properly, they can either buy their vaccines from COVAX at a negotiated price, or if they belong to the particular group of lower income countries, they can get their vaccines at subsidised price or free. So it’s really a scheme for all, but it’s not being used like that. And what’s happening is the countries believing that their best way of getting vaccine is to try to buy their way to the front of the queue, go directly to the manufacturers, offer possibly a higher rate and get their vaccines quicker, thus preventing vaccines that were supposed to go to COVAX from going to them. And it’s well documented and described by Tedros, in a number of recent interviews. And I think that it’s possibly one of the worst examples I’ve ever seen of a failure in multilateral working. It is time now to try to help a rebalancing of priorities. If you’re using a vaccine, use it to prevent death, use it as an immunological shield and concentrate on preventing the spread of the disease through proper non-pharmaceutical measures and good quality public health. One of my colleagues said to me today, trying to vaccinate your way out of the pandemic is the lazy approach. The correct approach is proper implementation of non pharmaceutical interventions, distancing, masking, hygiene, isolation when sick. That is not to try to vaccinate out of the pandemic, not when it’s going as ferociously as it is. And we’re in a world where the availability of vaccine is far, far, far less than what we need. Bloomberg estimate that vaccinating at the current rate will enable the world to be vaccinated by the end of 2022, or perhaps even into 2023. And that’s assuming that all variants are susceptible to the antibodies produced by the vaccines. That’s not even viable in public health terms right now to be considering vaccines as the way to end the pandemic. I’m just a bit frustrated that I’m not able to get this message across.
Edie Lush 33:50
I asked Dr. Nabarro about President Biden’s decision to join the movement to get drug manufacturers to waive some of their intellectual property rights to ramp up vaccine supply.
Dr. David Nabarro 34:03
I think it’s a very good thing that a major nation has indicated that from their perspective, this is a reasonable thing to do. It’s been a proposal on the table for some time, it’s really good also that the Biden announcement has come just before the World Health Assembly. But it’s not going to mean an immediate increase in availability of vaccines. In order to scale up the production of a vaccine, even if you’ve got it on licence from Moderna or from Pfizer or from AstraZeneca. If you’re going to scale up production, you have to have a plant that can produce the vaccine. You will need to get the necessary certificate to good manufacturing practice. And only then will it be any chance of getting even a national approval, let alone an international approval.
Edie Lush 35:00
Claudia, I found it a little bit hard to listen to David Nabarro at times because his message isn’t entirely positive, right? Yet the message in the UK is we’re opening up. Today, in fact, as we were in the briefing, the UK government released the green list of countries that in the UK, we are now allowed to travel to. Cinemas are opening up, we can gather in groups of up to 30 from the 17th of May. So it feels kind of positive. But that message coming from Navbarro’s briefing was not that positive.
Claudia Romo Edelman 35:39
It’s just because I think that David Nabarro is a visionary and he knows that, you know, like historically, as well, once you have a pandemic, or some world crisis, a public health crisis, when people get over enthusiastic, the yo-yo effect, it’s actually harder. And he did mention how dissatisfied he is about COVAX being sort of failure, and how it is very important that we have health equity at the heart of the discussion, how important it is that we learn how to live in a way with COVID, and how vaccination is not the solution for everything. And at the end of the day, it does feel like we’re coming back to life. Yesterday, Edie, as you were mentioning, in the UK, in New York, people are filling in also because it’s sunny, and it’s shiny. And yesterday hosted my first reception, my little party after 14 months, which has been horrendous for all of us. Such a year for so many of us, like personal losses of family members that pass away. And this was like a comeback, literally everyone that came had a feeling of you know, like seeing people in three dimensions and touching each other. I never felt so many New York’s touch my arm and like Ah hello. And you know, like that sense of being a little Latinos in the night. And then all of a sudden, Edie, there was this one person that started talking about variants. And that it. Party pooper. It all went down because none of us are aware of how much this is going to impact what we have, the gains we have made and whether we have to start all over again. And what would that mean?
Edie Lush 37:20
And that does seem to be the scary element. Which leads me to the next point which was brought up during the briefing, which is about what about this next step that Western richer countries, high income countries are considering taking, which is starting to vaccinate children. In the UK we haven’t started doing it. But it’s definitely being talked about. But I think it’s happening in the US is that right?
Unknown Speaker 37:47
My 17 year old is already vaccinated, and I have my daughter already scheduled for next week on her first vaccine, and she’s 15. This is normal, and it is happening. And I wonder actually, whether this is a time in which we would need more discussion, more pause to take stock of where we are. And for some countries that nevertheless very legitimate have bought vaccines for all their populations, whether there’s a time in which we should say like wait a second, once you have, say 80% of everyone that is over 50 years old, isn’t a time to start looking at how do you actually distribute vaccines to other places that have not even started with essential workers. In other podcasts, Edie, you and I have discussed Africa, Latin America being so behind. And I just don’t see enough of those two conversations. I don’t see enough conversations about variants. How do we know, what do we know, how they can come back or not? Whether vaccines are this or that, it seems to me that that’s a very scary topic that we should be discussing even more. And the second one is just like tackle head on health equity now. That some nations have really started getting coverage for their populations at risk. And I think that those are the two main things that jumped to my head as opposed to you know, like, but people are so in desire to celebrate, as opposed to observe even more obscure topics like those.
Edie Lush 39:16
There were two things that came out of me from that briefing that relate to what you just said. One is, there’s about 1% coverage of vaccinations in Africa at the moment. And so when you compare that number with the risk of variants arising, that is scary. And the other facts that came out is that when we talk about the need for health equity globally, the fact is that we know countries are hoarding vaccines in case variants come and in case they then need to vaccinate the populations again.
Claudia Romo Edelman 39:47
But then that wouldn’t make sense to start actually using them in young people. Like if we’re scared and we just want to keep them in the fridge then that doesn’t make sense. It’s like an illogical logic there.
Edie Lush 39:58
logical logic That is definitely what’s happening.
Edie Lush 0:06
Illogical logic that is definitely what’s happening.
Claudia Romo Edelman 0:11
I do think that we should provoke more discussion among global leaders to get head on onto health equity now, now that countries feel probably that they can breathe a tiny bit more. And then we start like looking at campaigns to move people from fear to hope and from hope to action.
Edie Lush 0:31
instead of fear to fury, fear to frustration and frustration to fury, which is what David Nabarro said. Yeah, today. As David Nabarro said we don’t have enough vaccine to stop this pandemic. It would be one thing if there were enough vaccine waiting, Or we could see a point where it could be rolled out to everyone, but at the moment, we’re vaccinating the least vulnerable at a time when still the most vulnerable in many places in the world in the lower and middle income countries in Africa, across Southeast Asia still haven’t even vaccinated their most vulnerable and their frontline health care workers. I mean it just doesn’t make sense.
Claudia Romo Edelman 1:17
It seems to me Edie, that again, we’re at the crossroads, and that’s why it was so important to attend this briefing, and to know that now it’s a different world, and that three months ago, We were in a very different position but now it’s time to start dialogue. and start taking decisions, and maybe adjust strategies worldwide, and that is why we will continue following the briefings of Dr David Nabarro and presenting them to you, because we absolutely need to be aware of the situation and actually start taking smart decisions for us, for our communities, and for the world.
Edie Lush 1:53
And spreading facts, not the virus. And, speaking of facts,
Claudia Romo Edelman 1:59
Edie this is a time in our podcast, where we bring you all the facts, and actions, what actions you can take and what are the three facts that you can actually go and show off with your mother-in-law over dinner. Did you take her now because probably you can?
Edie Lush 2:16
I can now see my mother in law for dinner. As long as I’m outside by my firepit, she can’t come in yet.
Claudia Romo Edelman 2:26
All right, so fact number one: 220 countries and territories around the world have reported over 157 million cases of the Coronavirus. COVID has even reached the Everest base camp.
Edie Lush 2:43
Fact number two: Bloomberg estimates that vaccinating at the current rate will get the world vaccinated by the end of 2022, or maybe even to 2023, and that is assuming that all variants are susceptible to the antibodies produced by the vaccines.
Claudia Romo Edelman 3:03
Fact number three: there is a shortage of nurses. In the United States alone, unless we take dramatic action, this country will have 1 million nurses less in the next three years.
Edie Lush 3:16
So that leads us into actions. What’s your action number one?
Claudia Romo Edelman 3:19
I have the actual number one that I want to give you, Edie, is precisely that on taking action to support more nurses getting trained. So go to nurses.org in order to help make a donation, say thank you, encourage someone, but mostly to get scholarships going so that we can get more young people getting and finishing an education on nursing.
Edie Lush 3:42
Action number two: there’s a new campaign called go give one. If you go on the internet to gogiveone.org When you get your vaccine, or even if you’ve already had one, you can donate to COVAX. As we know COVAX buys COVID-19 vaccines for the world, prioritizing those who need them most, in the countries that can’t afford them.
Claudia Romo Edelman 4:08
Action number three, we are going to play this podcast out with some music from a musician in the Gambia, who is raising awareness of how COVID is here to stay. And what we need to do about it. If you like it, go to GoFundMe and search for One World COVID Ready Response. So that’s One World COVID Ready Response, and we’ll put the link in our website and in the show for you to activate it. Those are the actions of today’s podcast. And this is a wrap. That’s it for today. Thank you so much everybody.
Edie Lush 4:41
And before we wrap and finish this podcast, I want to encourage you to go to your favorite podcast app, subscribe, give us so many stars, download and share us on your social media. We are @GlobalGoalsCast. Adios Claudia!
Claudia Romo Edelman 4:58
Lots of love! Best of luck! Adios amigos!
Unknown Speaker 5:05
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