The head of the World Health Organization on Thursday tempered his assertion that the end of the Covid-19 pandemic was near, warning that declaring an end to the crisis was “still a long way off”.
Last week, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters that the world had “never been in a better position to end the pandemic… The end is in sight”.
And US President Joe Biden went further in an interview broadcast on Sunday, saying the pandemic in the United States “is over”.
But speaking to the media again on Thursday on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York, Tedros appeared less optimistic, clarifying that “being able to see the end does not mean we are at the end”.
He reiterated that the world was in the best position it has ever been to end the pandemic, with weekly d*ath tolls continuing to drop – and now just 10% from what they were at the peak in January 2021.
Tedros pointed out that two-thirds of the world’s population have been vaccinated, including three-quarters of health workers and the elderly.
“We’ve been in a long, dark tunnel for two and a half years, and we’re just beginning to see the light at the end of that tunnel,” he said.
But, he pointed out, “it’s still a long way off, and the tunnel is still dark, with many obstacles that could trip us up if we’re not careful.”
“We are still in the tunnel.
In its latest epidemiological update, the WHO said more than 9,800 d*aths were reported last week, down 17% from the previous week, while 3.2 million new cases were reported. .
The UN health agency has warned that the drop in the number of reported cases is misleading, as many countries have reduced testing and may not be detecting less severe cases.
Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO’s technical lead on Covid, told reporters that the virus is “still circulating at an intense level”, although the situation varies by country.
But she stressed that the world has the tools to curb the spread.
“Our goal is to end the emergency in all countries. And we will continue until we achieve that goal,” she said.
Since the start of the pandemic, the WHO has counted more than 609 million cases and some 6.5 million d*aths, although the true toll would be significantly higher.
A WHO study published in May based on excess mortality observed in various countries during the pandemic estimated that up to 17 million people could have died from Covid in 2020 and 2021.
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