WHO chief: end of pandemic acute phase possible in 2022

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There may be an end to the acute phase of the Corona pandemic in 2022 in the eyes of the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) – and with an international show of force.

WHO: endemic start unclear
Among other things, that would require closing vaccination gaps in poorer countries and more testing, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Monday at a WHO Executive Board meeting in Geneva.

Difference between Omicron and Delta
Omicron “creates a credible hope for stabilization and normalization,” WHO regional chief for Europe Hans Kluge said Monday. This variant of the coronavirus leads to much weaker disease courses than the previously dominant delta variant, he said. Still, Kluge and Tedros cautioned against premature optimism. “It would be dangerous to assume that Omicron was the last variant and that we are already in the final phase,” the WHO chief said.

Because of the rapid spread of Omicron, 100 new cases were reported to WHO from around the world every three seconds last week, and one death was added every 12 seconds, Tedros reported.

No vaccine shortage?
The UN health agency chief, however, also had good news for the steering committee of health ministers and senior officials from 34 countries: The vaccine shortage has been overcome, he said. The logistical challenge now, he said, is getting the doses to all the countries and administering them.

In Africa, 85 percent of people have not yet received vaccination, according to Tedros. Only if 70 percent of the population in each country is vaccinated in the coming months can the virus be defeated, Tedros said. He also said treatment options must be improved to reduce mortality. “We can end Covid-19 as a global emergency, and we can do it this year,” Tedros said.

Aid to build vaccine production
Germany’s Development Minister Svenja Schulze (SPD) stressed after talks with Tedros in Geneva that the German government is supporting the development of vaccine production, especially in Africa, in cooperation with pharmaceutical companies. In contrast, she said, the often called-for temporary suspension of vaccine patents would be counterproductive, because it could discourage companies from developing new products.

  • source: APA/picture: pixabay.com
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