WHO chief warns against talk of pandemic ‘endgame’

It is true that we will be living with COVID for the foreseeable future and we will need to learn how to manage it through a sustained and integrated system for acute respiratory diseases to prepare for future pandemics, says WHO Director General

World Health Organization chief warns conditions remain ideal for more coronavirus variants to emerge, says it’s dangerous to assume omicron is last or that “we’re in the endgame”, while saying that the acute phase of the pandemic could still end this year — if certain key targets are met.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Monday outlined a range of global health achievements and concerns on issues such as reducing tobacco use, tackling antimicrobial drug resistance and the risks of climate change. on human health. But he said “ending the acute phase of the pandemic must remain our collective priority”.

“There are different scenarios for how the pandemic might unfold and how the acute phase might end. But it’s dangerous to assume that omicron will be the last variant or that we’re at the endgame,” Tedros said at the start of a WHO executive board meeting this week. “On the contrary, at scale world, the conditions are ideal for more variants to emerge. .” But he insisted that “we can end COVID-19 as a global health emergency, and we can do it this year”, by achieving goals such as the WHO’s goal of vaccinating 70 % of each country’s population by the middle of this year, with a focus on those most at risk of COVID-19 and improving testing and sequencing rates to more closely track the virus and its emerging variants.

“It is true that we will be living with COVID for the foreseeable future and we will need to learn how to manage it through a supported and integrated system for acute respiratory illness” to help prepare for future pandemics, he said .

“But learning to live with COVID doesn’t mean we give this virus free rein. This cannot mean that we accept nearly 50,000 deaths per week from preventable and treatable disease. In no uncertain terms, Tedros also called for strengthening the WHO and increasing its funding to help avert health crises.

“Let me state this clearly: if the current funding model continues, the WHO is doomed to fail. The paradigm shift in global health that is needed now must be accompanied by a paradigm shift in funding for the World Health Organization,” he said.

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