The World Health Organization (WHO) chief said on Thursday that the global COVID-19 caseload is expected to hit 100 million by the end of January, but vaccines have the potential to bring the pandemic under control.
In his address to the extraordinary meeting of the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) on Immunization, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that more than two million people have died from COVID-19 worldwide, and by the end of this month, "we expect to reach 100 million reported cases."
However, COVID-19 vaccines have the potential to bring the pandemic under control. And the development and approval of safe and effective vaccines less than a year after the emergence of a new virus is a "stunning scientific achievement, and a much-needed source of hope," he noted.
COVID-19 vaccination is now underway in more than 50 countries, said Tedros, yet all but two of them are high- or upper-middle income countries.
"We must work together as one global family to ensure the urgent and equitable rollout of vaccines," he said.
The WHO chief also stressed that vaccines complement rather than replace fundamental public health measures that individuals, communities and governments must take to stop the spread of COVID-19, which is especially important in the face of rapidly-spreading variants.
According to the latest WHO data, as of 17:29 CET (1629 GMT) on Thursday, there have been 95,612,831 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 2,066,176 deaths worldwide.