BERLIN (AP) — The head of the World Health Organization warned Sunday that the COVID-19 pandemic is “definitely not over,” despite a decline in reported cases since the peak of the Omicron wave. He told governments that “we reduce our risk.”
The director general of the UN health agency, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, told officials gathered in Geneva for the opening of the WHO’s annual meeting that “the decline in testing and sequencing means we are blinding ourselves to the evolution of the virus.” ” He also said that about 1 billion people in low-income countries are still not vaccinated.
In a weekly report on Thursday on the global situation, the WHO said the number of new COVID-19 cases has stabilized after weeks of decline since the end of March, while the overall number of weekly deaths declined.
While progress has been made, with 60% of the world’s population vaccinated, “it’s not going to end anywhere unless it’s everywhere,” Tedros said.
“Reported cases are rising in about 70 countries across all regions, and this is in a world in which testing rates have fallen,” he said.
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Reported deaths are increasing in Africa, the continent with the lowest vaccination coverage, and only 57 countries – almost all of them wealthy – have vaccinated 70% of their people.
He said that while the world’s vaccine supply has improved, some countries have “insufficient political commitment to vaccines”, others have “differences in operational or financial capacity”.
“Overall, we see vaccine hesitation driven by misinformation and disinformation,” Tedros said. “The pandemic won’t magically disappear, but we can end it.”
Tedros is expected to be appointed for a second five-year term this week at the World Health Assembly, the annual meeting of WHO member states.
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