Covid-19 pandemic is changing but it is not over: WHO chief
The Covid-19 pandemic is changing but it is not over, the head of the World Health Organization said on Wednesday
The Covid-19 pandemic is changing but it is not over, the head of the World Health Organization said on Wednesday, cautioning that the cases are on the rise in 110 countries and are being driven mainly by two fast-spreading Omicron sub-variants.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said this week that the fast-spreading Omicron sub-variants BA.4 and BA.5 together are estimated to make up half of the coronavirus cases in the United States.
As of June 25, BA.5 made up 36.6 per cent of the total coronavirus cases in the US while BA.4 accounted for 15.7 per cent, together accounting for about 52 per cent of new cases in the US.
He said the "pandemic is changing but it's not over. We have made progress but it's not over."
Ghebreyesus said the ability to track the virus is "under threat" as reporting and genomic sequences are declining, making it harder to track Omicron and analyse future emerging variants.
The WHO chief also voiced concern over the slow pace of vaccination in lower-income countries, making the at-risk population in those areas more vulnerable to future waves of the virus.
The Lancet estimates that 20 million lives have been saved because of vaccines.
Ghebreyesus said while the hoarding of vaccines by rich and manufacturing countries was the major barrier to access last year, increasingly political commitment to getting vaccines out to people and challenges of disinformation have been hurdles at the national level in 2022.
The WHO Chief cited the example of Rwanda where second dose vaccination rates are now above 65 per cent and still rising.
Ghebreyesus underlined that going forward to prevent deaths and severe disease, it is important to keep the most at-risk groups up to date with vaccination.
He said that in all countries, 100 per cent of at-risk groups should be vaccinated and boosted as soon as possible.
On the research and development front, Ghebreyesus said it is critical that there be funding for second-generation vaccines as well as tests and treatments.
He said the ideal solution would be the development of a "pan-coronavirus" vaccine that covers all the variants so far and potentially future ones.