WHO: COVID may be approaching ‘inflection point’
GENEVA — The coronavirus remains a global health emergency, the head of the World Health Organization said on Monday after a key advisory panel found the pandemic could be approaching an “inflection point” where higher levels of immunity could reduce virus-related deaths.
Speaking at the opening of the annual meeting of the WHO executive board, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that “there is no doubt that we are now in a much better position” than a year ago, when the highly contagious Omicron variant was at its peak. .
But Tedros warned that at least 170,000 people have died globally in the past eight weeks due to the coronavirus. He called for full vaccination of risk groups, increased testing and early use of antivirals, expanded laboratory networks, and combating “misinformation” about the pandemic.
Related: US health officials offer annual COVID-19 vaccination for most Americans
“We remain hopeful that in the coming year the world will enter a new phase in which we will reduce the number of hospitalizations and deaths to the lowest possible level,” he said.
Tedros’ comments came seconds after the WHO released the findings of its pandemic emergency committee, which reported that about 13.1 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines had been administered — nearly 90% of healthcare workers and more than four in five older people. 60 years. age, after completing the first series of injections.
“The Committee acknowledged that the COVID-19 pandemic may be approaching a critical point,” the WHO said in a statement. Higher levels of immunity around the world through vaccination or infection “may limit the impact” of the virus that causes COVID-19 on and mortality,” the committee said in a statement.
“(B) But there is no doubt that this virus will remain a persistent pathogen in humans and animals for the foreseeable future,” it said. While versions of Omicron spread easily, compared to earlier versions, “there has been a separation between infection and severe disease.”
Committee members cited “pandemic fatigue” and a growing public perception that COVID-19 does not pose as much of a risk as it once did, leading to people increasingly ignoring or ignoring health measures such as wearing masks. and social distancing.
Not a Modern Healthcare subscriber? Register Today.