CoronavirusHealthNewsCOVID-19 Is Not Over, WHO Warns

Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus, Director-General, World Health Organisation (WHO), has warned that COVID-19 is not over in spite of the reports that cases and deaths have declined significantly.

Ghebreyesus said this at the opening of the World Health Assembly, the decision-making body of WHO comprised of representatives of 194 countries, on Sunday in Geneva, Switzerland.

The 75th World Health Assembly, the first in-person Health Assembly since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, is being held in Geneva from 22 to 28 May 2022.

Addressing the health ministers, Ghebreyesus said that although in many countries all restrictions had been lifted and life looks much like it did before the pandemic, reported cases are increasing in almost 70 countries in all regions, because testing rates have plummeted.

“So, is COVID-19 over? No, it’s most certainly not over. I know that’s not the message you want to hear, and it’s definitely not the message I want to deliver,” the Director-General said.

“This virus has surprised us at every turn—a storm that has torn through communities again and again, and we still can’t predict its path, or its intensity.”

While agreeing that there is progress with 60 per cent of the world’s population already vaccinated, he reminded us that almost one billion people in lower-income countries remain unvaccinated.

“It’s not over anywhere until it’s over everywhere… Only 57 countries have vaccinated 70 per cent of their population – almost all of them high-income countries,” he added.

He lamented that in some countries there is still insufficient political commitment to roll out vaccines, and there are still gaps in operational and financial capacity, adding that “in all, we see vaccine hesitancy driven by misinformation and disinformation.”

Ghebreyesus also warned that increasing transmission means more deaths and more risk of a new variant emerging, stressing that WHO’s primary focus now is to support countries to turn vaccines into vaccinations as fast as possible.

He called on countries to work together to reach 70 per cent of vaccination coverage.

“The pandemic will not magically disappear. But we can end it. We have the knowledge. We have the tools. Science has given us the upper hand,” he said.

By Ezinwanne Onwuka (Senior Reporter)

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