End of Covid pandemic is ‘in sight’: WHO chief

GENEVA: The world has never been in a better position to end the Covid-19 pandemic, head World Health Organization said on Wednesday his most optimistic assessment of the years-long health crisis that has killed more than six million people.
“We’re not there yet. But it’s finally in sight,” WHO general manager Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters at a virtual press conference.
That is the most optimistic assessment from the UN agency since it declared an international emergency in January 2020 and began describing Covid-19 as a pandemic three months later. .
The virus, which emerged in China at the end of 2019, has killed nearly 6.5 million people and infected 606 million, rattling global economies and overwhelming healthcare systems. .
The deployment of vaccines and therapies has helped prevent deaths and hospitalizations, and Omicron variant that emerged late last year causes less severe disease. The United Nations agency reported the number of Covid-19 deaths last week to be the lowest since March 2020.
Still on Wednesday, he again urged countries to remain vigilant and likened the pandemic to a marathon.
“Now is the time to run harder and make sure we push the boundaries and reap the rewards for all our hard work.”
Countries need to take a close look at their policies and strengthen them against Covid-19 and future viruses, Tedros said. He also urged countries to vaccinate 100% of high-risk groups and continue testing for the virus.
WHO says countries need to maintain adequate supplies of medical equipment and medical staff.
WHO senior epidemiologist Maria Van Kerkhove said: “We anticipate future waves of infections, which are likely to occur at different times around the world due to other sub-variants. differences of Omicron or even disturbingly different variants”.
With more than 1 million deaths this year alone, the pandemic remains a state of emergency globally and in most countries.
A spokesperson for the European Commission said: “The Covid-19 summer wave, driven by Omicron BA.4 and BA.5, shows that the pandemic is not over yet as the virus continues to circulate in Europe. Europe and beyond”.
The next meeting of experts to decide whether the pandemic remains a public health emergency of international concern will be in October, a WHO spokesman said. said.
Global emergency
Dr Michael Head, senior research fellow in global health at the University of Southampton, said: “It is probably fair to say that most of the world is moving beyond the emergency phase of the pandemic response.
Governments are now looking at how best to manage Covidas as part of their routine health care and surveillance, he said.
Europe, the UK and the US have approved vaccines targeting the Omicron variant as well as the original virus as countries prepare to launch winter booster campaigns.
In the United States, Covid-19 was initially declared a public health emergency in January 2020, and that status has been renewed quarterly since.
The US health department will renew it in mid-October for what policy experts expect is the last before it expires in January 2023.
US health officials say the pandemic is not over yet, but the new dual-value vaccine marks an important turning point in the fight against the virus. They predict that an annual vaccine similar to the flu vaccine would provide a high level of protection and return the country to near normal.

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