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WHO: COVID-19 pandemic end 'in sight'

September 14, 2022

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has urged the world to "take this opportunity" to end the pandemic. The organization has recommended continued vaccination and testing.

COVID-19 rapid antigen test held in hand
The WHO has registered a global drop in reported cases of COVID-19 infectionImage: Michael Bihlmayer/CHROMORANGE/picture alliance

The end of the COVID-19 pandemic is in sight, World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Wednesday.

"We are not there yet. But the end is in sight," Ghebreyesus said at a virtual press conference. "We have never been in a better position to end the pandemic," the WHO chief said.

What else did WHO say?

Ghebreyesus warned that the world should "take this opportunity" before the pandemic once again increases in severity.

"If we don't take this opportunity now, we run the risk of more variants, more deaths, more disruption, and more uncertainty."

To this end, the WHO published six policy briefs aimed at controlling the spread of the virus.

In the briefs, the organization recommended that countries vaccinate 100% of people among at-risk groups, including health workers and the elderly.

The WHO also urged countries to keep up testing and sequencing for the virus. It said that countries need to maintain adequate supplies of medical equipment in the face of future waves of infections.

The organization also said that it was possible to eliminate the monkeypox outbreak in Europe by stepping up vaccination and testing.

Most cases not reported

Reported cases in the week ending on September 4 were the lowest since March 2020, or 12% less than the previous week.

Despite the drop in reported cases, the WHO has urged the world not to "let down [its] guard" regarding monkeypox and COVID-19. The organization warned that the virus was still "circulating" and that most cases are likely not reported.

"We feel that far more cases are actually circulating than are being reported to us," WHO technical lead on COVID-19, Maria Van Kerkhove, said. She added that the virus "is circulating at a very intense level around the world at the present time."

Van Kerkhove told reporters that sub-variants of omicron or other variants of concern are likely to cause further waves of infection. But "those future waves of infection do not need to translate into future waves of death," she said.

sdi/jcg (AFP, Reuters)