‘Nowhere near over': WHO chief warns COVID-19 response faces 4 major issues

Rising numbers speak for themselves.
Deniz Yildiran

As the numbers don't seem to be decreasing across the globe, the director-general of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said on Tuesday that new waves of the virus point that COVID-19 is "nowhere near over" during a press briefing.

He warned that safe and effective tools that have so far helped prevent hospitalization shouldn't be taken for granted. 

"As the virus pushes at us, we must push back," he said.

COVID-19 is still an international public health issue

Ghebreyesus revealed that, as the death rates continue to rise, the pressure doesn't seem to do health systems and workers any good. That's why the Emergency Committee on COVID-19, which met last Friday, decided that COVID-19 is still an international public health concern and made a short list of the challenges pushing states and governments.  

Omicron sub-variants BA.4 and BA.5 are still making their way to new cases, leading to hospitalization and rising death tolls worldwide. 

On a second note, it's getting harder to track the virus as the testing and sequencing rates have been reduced, making it even harder to assess the impact of transmission, disease characteristics, and the effectiveness of counter-measures. 

Thirdly, diagnosis and treatment processes, along with the deployment of vaccines, are not executed effectively. Countries don't seem to have much success in containing the virus or treating acute cases and the post-covid-19 condition, long-covid. 

Lastly, public opinion, scientific communities' suggestions, and the calls from political leaders don't match up, which leads to the public taking measurements less seriously in public places, such as masking, distancing, and ventilation.

A list of warnings for governments

Taking the challenges noted above into consideration, the WHO chief made significant recommendations to governments on defying the virus for the long term. 

"Vaccines have saved millions of lives and it’s important for governments to focus on boosting those most at-risk communities, finding the unvaccinated so as to build up the wall of immunity toward the 70 percent vaccination target," he said. 

"Planning and tackling COVID-19 should also go hand-in-hand with vaccinating for killer diseases like measles, pneumonia and diarrhea."

"It’s not a question of either/or; it’s possible to do both," he added. 

Currently, the total number of cases is over 500 million, while the virus has claimed more than 6 million lives around the world. And if we continue avoiding a pandemic that took the world by storm in the last two years, matters might get much worse. 

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