WHO says end of COVID pandemic is in sight!

“We are not there yet. But the end is in sight,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters at a virtual press conference on Wednesday. This is the most positive affirmation from the head of the global health agency which had declared the coronavirus led COVID as a global pandemic in 2020, few months after it was spotted in the Wuhan region of China. COVID was declared an international emergency in January 2020. India along with many other countries went into lockdown in and around March 2020 to stop the spread of the disease.

Despite this statement, the WHO chief has urged nations to remain vigilant.

The virus has scarred the human race worldwide. Ever since its emergence in 2019 it has killed over 6.5 million people and infected 606 millions. Global healthcare and economy system had crippled down in the initial waves of infection.

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2022 brought in air of freshness with the rollout of vaccines, improved hospitalisation and updated awareness around the disease.

“COVID is not over yet”

“The COVID-19 summer wave, driven by Omicron BA.4 and BA.5, showed that the pandemic is not yet over as the virus continues to circulate in Europe and beyond,” a European Commission spokesperson said.

On the preparedness of the governments in pandemic situation, Dr Michael Head, senior research fellow in global health at Southampton University said, “It’s probably fair to say most of the world is moving beyond the emergency phase of the pandemic response,” and added that governments are now looking at how best to manage COVID as part of their routine healthcare and surveillance.

“Now is the time to run harder…”

After delivering the most upbeat statement on the pandemic, the WHO Chief, added more enthusiasm to it by saying the effort made to contain COVID was similar to a marathon runner nearing the finish line. “Now is the worst time to stop running,” he said. “Now is the time to run harder and make sure we cross the line and reap all the rewards of our hard work.”

“COVID deaths have fallen by 22%”
As per the WHO report, deaths fell by 22% in the past week, at just over 11,000 reported worldwide. “There were 3.1 million new cases, a drop of 28%, continuing a weeks-long decline in the disease in every part of the world,” the report said.

In India also COVID cases seem to be improving if we see the union health ministry’s data on the number of active cases. The active caseload of COVID in India stands below 50,000. A total of 6,422 new cases have been recorded in the last 24 hours; one of the lowest records of COVID cases ever since the pandemic happened. The national capital Delhi, which was marred by the deadly and devastating second wave of infection, has also recorded a drop in COVID cases. The overall recovery rate in the country stands at 98.71%.

On COVID variants

Ever since the novel virus has been spotted, it has mutated several times. To this date, the WHO has recognised four variants of the coronavirus as variants of concern, because these variants have led to massive infections globally.

The Omicron variant is the dominant variant in the world right now. Among the sub variants of Omicron, BA.2.75 is predominantly being seen in India. BA.4 and BA.5 are causing the majority of the infection worldwide. BA.5 comprises 90% of the virus samples shared with the world’s biggest public database and is currently the most dominant subvariant of coronavirus.

On the ever changing and mutating coronavirus, the WHO Chief has issued a set of policy briefs for governments to strengthen their efforts against the coronavirus ahead of the expected winter surge of COVID-19, warning that new variants could yet undo the progress made to date.

“If we don’t take this opportunity now, we run the risk of more variants, more deaths, more disruption, and more uncertainty,” Mr. Tedros said.

However, not many agree to this

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus’s statement on COVID might have been a breather for many people, but some people have pointed out the lack of testing and surveillance.

Many have come forward and criticised the WHO Chief for this statement. “Is it?

Testing is at all time low levels in Australia, 300+ Australians die every week, and @AlboMP has removed almost every safeguard we had to reduce transmission. SARSCoV2 has not played all its cards. Our arrogance will be our downfall @WHO #auspol #CovidIsNotOver,” a Twitter user, whose profile says Ex-Virologist, has said in response to the WHO Chief’s statement.

(With inputs from agencies)

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