COVID-19 pandemic ‘certainly not over’, says WHO health chief

The COVID-19 pandemic is “certainly not over”, the head of the World Health Organization warned on Sunday, despite a drop in reported cases since the peak of the Omicron wave. He told governments that “we let our guard down at our peril”.

The director-general of the UN health agency, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, told officials gathered in Geneva for the opening of the WHO’s annual meeting that “the decline in testing and sequencing means we are blinding ourselves on the evolution of the virus”. He also noted that almost a billion people in low-income countries have still not been vaccinated.

In a weekly report on the global situation released Thursday, the WHO said the number of new COVID-19 cases appears to have stabilized after weeks of decline since late March, and the total number of weekly deaths has fallen. .

While there has been progress, with 60% of the world’s population vaccinated, “it’s not over anywhere until it’s over everywhere,” Tedros said.

“Reported cases are rising in nearly 70 countries across all regions – and that’s in a world where testing rates have plummeted.”

Reported deaths are rising in Africa, the continent with the lowest vaccination coverage, he said, and only 57 countries – almost all of them wealthy – have vaccinated 70% of their population.

While the global vaccine supply has improved, there is “insufficient political commitment to roll out vaccines” in some countries, gaps in “operational or financial capacity” in others, he said. declared.

“Overall, we see vaccine hesitancy driven by misinformation and misinformation,” Tedros said. “The pandemic won’t magically disappear, but we can end it.”

Tedros is expected to be nominated for a second five-year term this week at the World Health Assembly, the annual meeting of WHO member countries.