The world has never been in a better position to end the covid-19 pandemic, World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a press briefing in Geneva on Wednesday.
“Last week, the number of weekly reported deaths from COVID-19 was the lowest since March 2020. We have never been in a better position to end the pandemic. We are not there yet, but the end is in sight,” said Tedros.
“A marathon runner does not stop when the finish line appears before his eyes; he runs on with all the energy he has left,” said the WHO chief. “We have to run the same way. We can see the finish line, we’re in a winning position, but now is the worst time to stop running. Now is the time to run even harder and make sure we cross the finish line and reap the rewards of all our hard work.”
The WHO published six strategic points on Wednesday that outline key actions governments should take to end the pandemic. The documents draw on the experience of the past 32 months and offer guidance on how to save lives, protect health systems and prevent disruption to social life.
They are “an urgent call for governments to take a hard look at their health strategies,” Tedros said. Although the official number of cases of the disease may be an underestimate in some cases, trends show that the number of cases worldwide is steadily decreasing.
Vaccination against covid-19
Modified omicron vaccines are already available in the Czech Republic, and from Monday people can register for a specific vaccination date. In some places, however, they will again be available without registration.
“We urge all governments to invest in vaccinating the most vulnerable groups, including healthcare workers and the elderly, as a top priority on the road to 70% coverage. Countries should integrate surveillance for covid-19 with other respiratory diseases and integrate care for covid-19 patients into primary health care systems,” WHO said.
“Governments should also plan for a surge in cases and make sure they have the necessary supplies, equipment and health workers. They should also follow infection prevention and control measures to protect healthcare workers and patients who have illnesses other than covid-19. Last but not least, we call on governments to communicate clearly with the public about any changes they make to their policies related to covid-19 and the reasons for those changes,” the WHO statement said.
The WHO’s weekly epidemiological update published on Wednesday said just over 11,000 deaths were reported worldwide between September 5 and 11, a 22 percent decrease from the previous week. The United States reported the highest number of weekly deaths, followed by Japan, Russia, Brazil and the Philippines.
The decline was recorded in five of the six regions into which the WHO divides the world. The European region was down 31%, the Southeast Asia region was down 25%, the Americas region was down 22%, the Western Pacific was down 11% and the Eastern Mediterranean was down 10%. A 10% increase in the number of deaths was recorded in the African region.
Overall, more than 6.4 million deaths have been reported worldwide since the start of the pandemic as of September 15. Approximately two-thirds of the global population are vaccinated with at least the first dose of the covid-19 vaccine. However, disparities in vaccination coverage between richer and poorer countries persist.