COVID-19 pandemic ‘likely at transition point’, says WHO

The World Health Organization said Monday that COVID-19 remains a public health emergency but the pandemic is at a “point of transition”.

The agency said its International Health Regulations emergency committee met on Friday to analyze data on the state of the pandemic.

WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus “acknowledges the Committee’s view that the COVID-19 pandemic is likely at a point of transition and appreciates the Committee’s guidance to navigate this transition with caution and mitigate potential negative consequences,” the statement read.

According to a transcript of Tedros’ speech at the meeting provided by WHO, he said there is still a high risk of global transmission of COVID-19, which means the virus is still classified as a health emergency. public of international scope.

However, he said the world was in the best position it was in – due to diagnostics, vaccines and treatments – to fend off COVID.

World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus attends a press briefing on COVID-19, at WHO headquarters, on March 2, 2020, in Geneva. On January 30, 2022, the WHO announced that COVID-19 was still a public health emergency, but that the pandemic “is likely at a point of transition”.

Fabrice Coffrini/AFP via Getty Images, FILE

“As we enter the fourth year of the pandemic, we are certainly in a much better position now than a year ago when the omicron wave was at its peak and more than 70,000 deaths were reported to the WHO every week,” Tedros said during the meeting, according to a transcript provided by the WHO.

“When you last met in October, the number of weekly deaths reported was almost the lowest since the start of the pandemic – less than 10,000 per week. However, since early December, the number of weekly deaths reported in the world has increased,” Tedros continued. “But the global response remains hampered because in too many countries these powerful and life-saving tools are still not reaching the populations who need them most – especially the elderly and workers. health.”

Dr. John Brownstein, epidemiologist and chief innovation officer at Boston Children’s Hospital, said the WHO comments show the agency recognizes the public health emergency is ending but the threat from the virus remains.

“What we need to remember is that the pandemic will not end on any given day,” said Brownstein, an ABC News contributor. “The metrics for cases, hospitalizations and deaths paint a more optimistic picture and we see more countries emerging from this acute phase.”

He added that the danger of COVID is still very real, with deaths from COVID twice as high as flu.

“If you look at the death data, we still see twice as many people die from COVID as from the flu every season and the flu only lasts a quarter of a year, and we see that number,” Brownstein said. .

At the WHO meeting, Tedros urged groups at higher risk of severe illness and death – including those who are immunocompromised and elderly – to be fully vaccinated and strengthened.

He also encouraged more countries to step up testing and use antivirals early on among those who test positive for COVID-19.

ABC News

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