Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO), stated on Wednesday that COVID-19 mortality have been increasing over the previous five weeks, with certain nations experiencing an increase in hospitalizations.
Addressing a media briefing WHO Director-General Tedros said, “COVID-19 deaths have been increasing for the last five weeks, and several countries are reporting increasing trends in hospitalizations following waves of transmission driven by Omicron subvariants.” Tedros said that though the world has learned a number of important lessons by being with COVID-19 for over 2 years now however he warned that one must not let their guard down.
“Although the COVID-19 pandemic is far from over, we are now in a very different situation to where we were a year ago, and we have learned a number of important lessons,” the WHO chief said during the briefing.
He also laid great emphasis over treating vaccination as an elixir to save lives. “One of the most important is that the most effective way to save lives, protect health systems and reopen societies and economies is to vaccinate the right groups first.”
Tedros stated that even in nations where vaccination coverage has reached 70%, if substantial numbers of health professionals, older people, and other vulnerable populations remain unvaccinated, mortality will occur, health systems would be under strain, and the global recovery will be jeopardised.
This is not a hypothetical situation, he stressed.
Last week, WHO released an update to the Global COVID-19 Vaccination Strategy, emphasising the need of vaccinating the most vulnerable groups, including 100% of health and care professionals, 100% of older people, and 100% of those at highest risk.
The WHO chief urged the world to “strive for the target of 70 per cent vaccination coverage, with a focus on targeted vaccination strategies that prioritize the most vulnerable, which is the most effective way to save lives.”
“While vaccines have saved countless lives, they have not substantially reduced transmission,” he noted.
He also emphasised the need of governments and the business sector continuing to collaborate and invest in the development of new vaccines to prevent both infection and sickness.
“We also need vaccines that can be delivered more easily, such as through nasal sprays or drops. Crucially, it’s essential as new vaccines and other COVID-19 tools are developed, they are available equitably to all countries.”
Tedros also urged all countries to strengthen their readiness and response plans for any possible future COVID-19 waves.
“In addition to vaccination, WHO urges all countries to assess and strengthen their readiness and response plans for future waves of transmission, including surveillance, testing, strong clinical management and a well-equipped health workforce,” he concluded.