Acute phase of COVID-19 pandemic can end this year – WHO

The acute phase of the Coronavirus pandemic can end this year if countries use all of the tools available, the head of the World Health Organisation(WHO), Tedros Ghebreyesus, said on Monday.

Ghebreyesus told a meeting of the WHO’s executive committee that the goal could be achieved if the vaccination gap was closed in poorer countries and more testing was carried out.

“If countries use all of the strategies and tools in a comprehensive way, we can end the acute phase of the pandemic this year.

“We can end COVID-19 as a global health emergency and we can do it this year,” he said.

He told health ministers and officials from 34 countries that vaccine shortages had been overcome and the logistical challenge now was sending the doses to all nations and administering them.

Ghebreyesus though offered notes of caution.

He said that the rapid spread of the Omicron variant meant 100 new cases were reported to the WHO from around the world every three seconds last week.

One death was added every 12 seconds.

“It is dangerous to assume that Omicron will be the last variant and that we are in the endgame,’’ he said.

In Africa, 85 per cent of people have not yet received a COVID-19 jab, according to him.

“Only if 70 per cent of the population in each country would be vaccinated in the coming months, can the virus be defeated,” the WHO chief asked.

He also said treatment options must be improved to reduce mortality rates.

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