During his weekly press conference, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus addressed the media, “We have never been in a stronger position to finish the pandemic.”
However, the Director-General of the UN Health Agency noted that the globe “is not there yet.”
Finish line in sight
“When the finish line is in sight, a marathon runner does not stop. With all of her remaining energy, she runs faster. We too must. The finish line is visible. We’re in a position to succeed. But the worst time to stop running is right now, he emphasized.
He also cautioned that there is still a chance for additional variations, fatalities, disruptions, and uncertainty if the world does not seize this opportunity immediately.
He urged, “So let’s grasp this chance,” noting that WHO will soon release six concise policy briefs outlining the crucial steps that all nations must now do in order to “complete the race.”
The policy briefs provide an overview of what can be done to save lives, safeguard health systems, and prevent social and economic damage based on the evidence and experience of the previous 32 months.
According to Tedros, “[they] constitute an urgent call for governments to examine their policies closely and reinforce them for COVID-19 and future diseases with pandemic potential.”
The materials, which are available online, contain advice on immunizing the majority of at-risk populations, continuing to test and sequence the SARS-CoV-2 virus, and incorporating COVID-19 treatment into primary healthcare systems.
They also exhort the government to prepare plans for future influxes, including procuring additional supplies, equipment, and medical personnel.
The briefs also include communication guidance, such as teaching healthcare professionals how to spot and correct false information and developing compelling educational materials.
committed to the future
Tedros emphasized that the WHO has been working to stop the spread of COVID since 2019 New Year’s Eve and would keep doing so until the pandemic is “really over.”
“We can end this pandemic collectively, but only if all nations, businesses, neighborhoods, and people rise to the occasion and seize this opportunity,” he stated.
The virus is still “intensely circulating” throughout the world, according to Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO’s Technical Lead on COVID-19, and the organization thinks the reported case numbers are understated.
She reiterated her earlier caution that the more the virus circulates, the more opportunities it has to mutate. “We expect that there will be future waves of infection, potentially at different time points throughout the world caused by different subvariants of Omicron or even different variants of concern,” she said.