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WHO: COVID still an emergency but approaching ‘tipping point’

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GENEVA (UKTN) — The coronavirus remains a global health emergency, the World Health Organization chief said Monday, after a major advisory panel determined the pandemic is approaching an “inflection point” where higher levels of immunity could reduce virus-related deaths.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at the opening of the annual meeting of the WHO Executive Board: “there is no doubt that we are now in a much better situation” than a year ago. ago – when the highly transferable Omicron variant was at its peak.

But Tedros warned that at least 170,000 people worldwide have died in connection with the coronavirus in the past eight weeks. He called for full vaccination of high-risk groups, more testing and early use of antivirals, an expansion of laboratory networks and a fight against “misinformation” about the pandemic.

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“We remain hopeful that in the coming year the world will move into a new phase where we reduce hospitalizations and deaths to the lowest possible level,” he said.

Tedros’ comments came shortly after WHO released findings from its pandemic emergency committee, which reported that some 13.1 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered — with nearly 90% of health workers and more than four in the five people over the age of 60. age after completing the first set of jabs.

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“The committee recognized that the COVID-19 pandemic is approaching a turning point,” the WHO said in a statement. Higher levels of immunity worldwide through vaccination or infection “could limit the impact” of the virus that causes COVID-19 on “morbidity”. and mortality,” the committee said.

“(B) there is little doubt that this virus will remain a permanently established pathogen in humans and animals for the foreseeable future,” it said. While Omicron versions are easily spread, “there is a disconnection between infection and serious illness” compared to previous variants.

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Committee members cited “pandemic fatigue” and the increasing public perception that COVID-19 is no longer as much of a risk as it once was, leading people to increasingly ignore or ignore health measures such as mask-wearing and social distancing.