Geneva: Populism, narrow nationalism and hoarding of health tools, including vaccines, by a small number of countries created the ideal conditions for the emergence of new COVID-19 variants, World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has said.
"While science delivered, politics too often triumphed over solidarity," Tedros told a press briefing on Wednesday.
"While there were 1.8 million recorded deaths in 2020, there were 3.5 million in 2021 and we know the actual number is much higher. This is not to mention to the millions of people dealing with long-term consequences from the virus," he added.
Furthermore, misinformation and disinformation, often spread by a small number of people, have been a constant distraction, undermining science and trust in lifesaving health tools.
In the huge waves of cases currently seen in Europe and in many countries around the world, misinformation which has driven vaccine hesitancy is now translating to the unvaccinated disproportionally dying.
"I am highly concerned that Omicron being more transmissible, circulating at the same time as Delta - is leading to a tsunami of cases," he stated.
"But, I still remain optimistic that this can be the year we not only end the acute stage of the pandemic but we also chart a path to stronger health security," he added.