I'm proud to share that the Pandemic Action Network is once again galvanizing our global network of partners for World Mask Week. This global movement emphasizes the importance of continued masking to keep our most vulnerable community members and the world safe as we get ever closer to ending the COVID-19 pandemic.
World Mask Week returns to a very different COVID-19 landscape than we saw during last year's World Mask Week. At that time, vaccines were still a yet-to-be-proven concept. Fast forward to today: Nearly 70% of Americans have been vaccinated, and there is a widespread perception in this country that the pandemic is over.
But that is not the case: the pandemic is moving on two very different tracks. A small number of rich countries have been able to vaccinate their populations, while the vast majority of the world's citizens have no access to vaccines. The numbers of COVID deaths in 2021 has already surpassed last year's totals and last week marked the fourth consecutive week of increasing cases of COVID-19 globally.
When my co-founders and I started the Pandemic Action Network last year, we knew there would be a long road ahead. The sprint to effective vaccines was hugely important, but we're still in the middle of a global marathon, and we can't stop now.
That's why masking is so important, and why leaders like WHO Director General Dr. Tedros and Africa Center for Disease Control Director Dr. John Nkengasong have led the #WorldMaskWeek charge. It's been great to see people in places as varied as El Salvador, India, Iraq, Kenya, Libya, Madagascar, Mexico, Namibia, Pakistan and Spain say #ThanksforMasking.
Last year's campaign reached more than 3.5 billion people in 117 countries. Let's try to get the message to even more people this year: You can participate in #WorldMaskWeek by sharing a photo in your favorite mask and encouraging your networks to continue masking up and say #ThanksForMasking.
On behalf of our friends, our family, our community, and the world, I say, #ThanksForMasking and thanks for continuing to wear a mask until we end this pandemic for everyone.
CEO & Founder, Panorama
Co-Founder, Pandemic Action Network