WHO: Despite decline in infections, deaths, COVID-19 pandemic still far from over

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the World Health Organization, speaks at the WHO headquarters, Geneva, Switzerland, May 24, 2021. /CFP
FILE PHOTO: Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the Director-General of the World Health Organization, speaks at the WHO headquarters. /CFP

Despite the decline in global COVID-19 infections and fatalities, the pandemic is still far from over, according to the World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom.

The WHO chief made the remarks on Tuesday in his remarks at the public hearing regarding a new international instrument on pandemic preparedness and response.

“Transmission remains high, vaccine coverage remains too low in too many countries, and the relaxation of public health and social measures is creating the conditions for new variants to spread,” he said.

“Our focus must remain on ending the pandemic – in particular, by supporting all countries to vaccinate 70 percent of their population, with priority on the most at-risk groups.”

Noting that COVID-19 has exposed serious gaps in the global health security architecture, Dr Tedros said the world needs to learn from the current pandemic to prepare for any future health crises that may arise.

He also took the opportunity to rally the world towards unity in its response to the virus.

He particularly pointed out vaccination gaps as a challenge that was impeding the fight against COVID-19, noting that while some of the high-income countries were rolling out fourth doses of the life-saving jabs, one third of the world’s population is yet to receive a single dose, including 83 percent of the population of Africa.

So far, the total number of COVID-19 infections recorded globally is nearly 500 million, with over 6.18 million deaths.