WHO chief warns: pandemic “is far from over”

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The head of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, has issued a strong warning against downplaying the Omicron variant of the coronavirus. “Make no mistake, Omicron is causing hospitalizations and deaths, and even the less severe cases are flooding health facilities,” Tedros said Tuesday. The Corona pandemic “is far from over,” he said.

“Omicron may be less severe on average, but the narrative that it is a harmless disease is misleading (…) and costs more lives,” the WHO chief said. He also said that because it is so widespread, it is likely that more variants will emerge.

Endemic does not mean good”
Last week, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) had said the spread of the Omicron variant could turn Covid-19 into an endemic disease that humanity can learn to live with. Swiss Health Minister Alain Berset also said Omicron could be “the beginning of the end” of the pandemic.

WHO expert Michael Ryan also warned against underestimating the health risks posed by Covid-19. “People juxtapose pandemic and endemic, but endemic malaria kills hundreds of thousands of people, HIV is endemic, violence in our cities is endemic,” he said at a World Economic Forum online event. “Endemic doesn’t mean good, endemic just means it’s there forever.”

“We’re not going to get rid of the virus this year,” Ryan continued. “We may never eradicate the virus. Viruses that cause pandemics tend to become part of the ecosystem.” But the public health emergency can be ended by keeping incidence numbers low, with as many vaccinations as possible at the same time, “so no one has to die,” he said. “That will be the end of the pandemic,” the physician asserted.

  • source: kurier.at/picture: thestraitstimes.com
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