World Health Organization (WHO) director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus; has pointed out two reasons that will trigger the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic to drag on, and create an “ideal condition” for more new variants of the virus to emerge.
Speaking on vaccine equity, which has remained at the forefront of the United Nations (UN) health agency’s agenda for long; Ghebreyesus said that the inequitable access to Covid-19 vaccines and tests coupled with high transmission is making way for an apt environment for more variants to emerge.
He also spoke about the low severity of the Omicron variant of Covid-19; adding that the nature of the strain is “driving a false narrative” in several nations that the “pandemic is over”.
Ghebreyesus said that the “far beyond” the short-term economic impacts that the Covid-19 crisis had caused; it has “seriously set” the world back towards the “sustainable development goals”.
Backing his point, the WHO chief noted that to address this situation; “closer collaboration” between health and finance sectors is vital.
Last month, during the 150th session of the WHO Executive Board meeting; Ghebreyesus emphasised on countries working together to end the pandemic this year itself, without “lurching between panic and neglect”. He said that to manage the current scenario, nations need to use strategies and tools comprehensively – which include the goal to jab at least 70 per cent of the population, ramping up testing, looking out for more variants, and constantly coming up with solutions to pandemic-related problems.
Meanwhile, during an address, executive director of WHO health emergencies programme Dr Mike Ryan said that; the desire by several countries to open up operations and lift all forms of restrictions “really needs to be thought about” if they mean sustaining the Covid-19 pandemic much longer than it needs to be.
“I’m a bit nervous that we’re lifting everything. If we get hit by another variant, and we’ve already sort of abandoned all measures; it’s going to be really hard to put anything back in place,” Ryan added.
WHO technical lead Maria Van Kerkhove pointed out that countries cannot have an “all or nothing approach” in dealing with Covid-19 measures.
She said that some countries have high vaccination coverage, and have reached higher levels of immunity among its population.
However, Kerkhove added, for other nations the tendency to lift every measure is “ill advised”.