Conditions Ideal For More Transmissible, Dangerous Variants : WHO Chief

Conditions Ideal For More Transmissible, Dangerous Variants : WHO Chief

Feb. 20, 2022, 9:20 a.m.

The coronavirus pandemic will end "when we choose to end it" even though the conditions are now "ideal for more transmissible, more dangerous variants"of the virus to emerge, World Health Organisation chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during a Live session at the Munich Security Conference 2022, currently underway in the German city. Ending the pandemic "must be the focus"of the world, he stressed.

Offering his assessment of the pandemic that has exploded, receded, and exploded again, Ghebreyesus said, "I'm sure when we met two years ago, when we were all coming to grips with the spread of this new virus, that none of us would have imagined we would now be entering the third year of the pandemic."

"In fact, the conditions are ideal for more transmissible, more dangerous variants to emerge. But we can end the Covid pandemic as a global health emergency this year," he cautioned.

The lower severity of the Omicron variant combined with high vaccine coverage in some countries is "driving a dangerous narrative that the pandemic is over", the WHO chief warned.

"But it's not."

"Not when 70,000 people a week are dying from a preventable and treatable disease. Not when 83% of the population of Africa is yet to receive a single dose of vaccine. Not when health systems continue to strain and crack under the caseload. Not when we have a highly transmissible virus circulating almost unchecked, with too little surveillance to track its evolution," he said.

All is not grim, however. "We have the tools. We have the know-how" to end the pandemic, Dr Ghebreyesus said, adding, "In particular, we are calling on all countries to fill the urgent financing gap of $16 billion for the ACT Accelerator, to make vaccines, tests, treatments and personal protective equipment available everywhere."

ACT Accelerator, or Access to Covid-19 Tools Accelerator, brings together the expertise of the public and private sectors and institutions from around the world to fast-track the development and equitable distribution of Covid diagnostics, treatments and vaccines.

NOT ALL IS GRIM

The chief of the global health body spoke of a three-pronged approach that may help arrest the pandemic.

"Stronger governance: Instead of the confusion and incoherence that has fueled this pandemic, we need cooperation and collaboration in the face of common threats. Stronger system and tools: We need stronger systems and tools to prevent, detect, and respond rapidly to epidemics and pandemics. Stronger financing: It's obvious that nationally and globally, we need substantial resources for strengthening global health security."

As he summed up his nine-minute address, Tedros Ghebreyesus revisited the question - "when will the pandemic end". It will be over when we "choose to", he said, adding, "Ultimately, it's not a matter of chance, it's a matter of choice."

The coronavirus pandemic, which began with infections being first reported from China in 2019, swept the world and locked it down in less than six months. The virus has since evolved, mutated, killed millions globally and infected many more.

Source: India Today

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