World Health Organization (WHO) said it will dangerous to assume that the pandemic is nearing end this year.
WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said it was possible this year to exit the acute phase of the pandemic where COVID-19 constitutes a global health emergency if strategies and tools such as testing and vaccines are used in a comprehensive way.
Speaking at the opening of the Executive Board meeting, Tedros said since Omicron was first identified a little over nine weeks ago, more than 80 million cases had been reported to the U.N. agency, more than were reported in the whole of 2020.
But he insisted that we can end COVID-19 as a global health emergency, and we can do it this year, by reaching goals like WHO’s target to vaccinate 70 percent of the population of each country by the middle of this year, with a focus on people who are at the highest risk of COVID-19, and improving testing and sequencing rates to track the virus and its emerging variants more closely.
“It’s true that we will be living with COVID for the foreseeable future and that we will need to learn to manage it through a sustained and integrated system for acute respiratory diseases” to help prepare for future pandemics,” he said.
But learning to live with COVID cannot mean that we give this virus a free ride. It cannot mean that we accept almost 50,000 deaths a week from a preventable and treatable disease.
In stark terms, Tedros also appealed for strengthening WHO and increasing funding for it to help stave off health crises.
“Let me put it plainly: If the current funding model continues, WHO is being set up to fail. The paradigm shift in world health that is needed now must be matched by a paradigm shift in funding the world’s health organization,” he said.