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Lack of leadership, not COVID-19, is world’s biggest threat


World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has called for unity. /Fabrice Coffrini/AFP

Even as COVID-19 continues hammering global health sectors, the World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom says lack of leadership is a bigger threat to the world than the pandemic itself.

“My friends, make no mistake. The greatest threat we face now is not the virus itself. Rather, it is the lack of leadership and solidarity at the global and national levels,” Tedros said in a press briefing on Thursday.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is a test of global solidarity and global leadership. The virus thrives on division but is thwarted when we unite.”

Tedros’ remarks come following the withdrawal of the United States from the WHO.

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U.S. President Donald Trump announced in end May that his country would pull out of the global body due to its handling of the pandemic.

“We cannot defeat this pandemic as a divided world,” said Tedros in his Thursday remarks.

The WHO chief said divisions in the world’s fight against the pandemic only served to reduce chances of success.

“How is it difficult for humans to unite and fight a common enemy that is killing people indiscriminately? Are we unable to distinguish or identify the common enemy? Can’t we understand that the divisions and the cracks between us are an advantage for the virus. I think I do not need to remind you because we all know that these are the basics,” he noted.

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Tedros’ remarks came as the number of COVID-19 infections globally surpassed 12.1 million, with a death toll exceeding 551,000, according to data from the U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University.

He also urged countries around the world to use the pandemic as an opportunity to strengthen their health sectors and take up better health practices in order to be better prepared to tackle any future health crises.

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