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WHO director warns ‘COVID-19 is not over’

Published on 25/05/22 at 08:59am

Dr Tedros Adhanom Gebreyesus has delivered a message at the opening of the 75th World Health Assembly. He highlighted: “So, is it 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”.

He added that although all restrictions have been lifted, and life looks much like it did before the pandemic, reported cases are increasing in almost 70 countries in all regions.

“…And this in a world in which testing rates have plummeted”, he added. “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”.

Whilst there is progress with 60% of the world’s population already vaccinated, Tedros reminded that almost one billion people in lower-income countries are still unvaccinated. “It’s not over anywhere until it’s over everywhere… Only 57 countries have vaccinated 70% of their population – almost all of them high-income countries”, he noted.

The WHO chief also warned that increasing transmission means more deaths and more risk of a new variant emerging, and the current decline of testing and sequencing means “we are blinding ourselves to the evolution of the virus”.

It is now more important than ever to support countries to turn vaccines into vaccinations as fast as possible. “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, calling on countries to work together to reach 70% of vaccination coverage.

Lina Adams


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