WHO chief warns against talk of ‘endgame’ in pandemic

24 January 2022, 12:44

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the World Health Organisation
Switzerland Ethiopia WHO Complaint. Picture: PA

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus also appealed for increased funding for the WHO to help stave off health crises.

The head of the World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned that conditions remain ideal for more coronavirus variants to emerge and that it is dangerous to assume Omicron is the last one or that “we are in the endgame”.

But Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO’s director-general, also said the acute phase of the pandemic could still end this year – if some key targets are met.

Dr Tedros laid out on Monday an array of achievements and concerns in global health over issues such as reducing tobacco use, fighting resistance to anti-microbial treatments, and risks of climate change on human health.

But he said “ending the acute phase of the pandemic must remain our collective priority”.

“There are different scenarios for how the pandemic could play out and how the acute phase could end. But it’s dangerous to assume that Omicron will be the last variant or that we are in the endgame,” Dr Tedros told the start of a WHO executive board meeting.

“On the contrary, globally, the conditions are ideal for more variants to emerge.”

But he insisted that “we can end Covid-19 as a global health emergency, and we can do it this year”, by reaching goals such as the WHO’s target to vaccinate 70% of the population of each country by the middle of this year, with a focus on people who are at the highest risk of Covid-19, and improving testing and sequencing rates to track the virus and its emerging variants more closely.

“It’s true that we will be living with Covid for the foreseeable future and that we will need to learn to manage it through a sustained and integrated system for acute respiratory diseases” to help prepare for future pandemics, he said.

“But learning to live with Covid cannot mean that we give this virus a free ride. It cannot mean that we accept almost 50,000 deaths a week from a preventable and treatable disease.”

In stark terms, Dr Tedros also appealed for strengthening of the WHO and increasing funding for it to help stave off health crises.

“Let me put it plainly: If the current funding model continues, WHO is being set up to fail. The paradigm shift in world health that is needed now must be matched by a paradigm shift in funding the world’s health organisation.”

By Press Association

Latest World News

See more Latest World News

California fire

Man jailed for 24 years over wildfire that killed 12 condors

Kharkiv scenes

Russian troops ‘likely to redeploy from Mariupol’

Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks

US accuses Russia of holding world hostage over food amid Ukraine invasion

Nancy Pelosi has issued a warning about the Northern Ireland protocol

Nancy Pelosi threatens to block US/UK trade deal over Northern Ireland Protocol plans

Bush Iraq

George W Bush under fire over ‘brutal’ Iraq invasion slip-up

Ellen Barkin's recorded testimony from 2019 was played in court on Thursday

'Jealous and controlling' Depp threw wine bottle across the room during fight, says ex

Greece Obit Vangelis

‘The world has lost a genius’ – worlds of music and film mourn composer Vangelis

Biden

Joe Biden backs Nato applications from Sweden and Finland

Switzerland Britain Rwanda

Rwandan and UK ministers defend asylum seeker plans after UN criticism

Vangelis

Chariots Of Fire composer Vangelis dies aged 79

Election 2022 Congress

Senate backs huge military and economic aid package for Ukraine

Nato secretary general Jens Stoltenberg gestures as he attends a meeting at Kastellet in Copenhagen, Denmark

Nato addressing Turkey’s concerns over Sweden and Finland – Stoltenberg

The oldest of Moscow’s McDonald’s outlets

McDonald’s era in Russia coming to a close as restaurants sold

Payton Gendron is led into the courtroom for a hearing at Erie County Court in Buffalo, New York

Teenager in court over Buffalo supermarket shooting

Beer cans inspired by the Nato logo by Olaf Brewing Company are displayed in Savonlinna, eastern Finland

Finnish brewery launches Nato beer with ‘taste of security’

Basira Joya, presenter of the news programme, during recording at the Zan TV station (women’s TV) in Kabul, Afghanistan, on May 30 2017

Female Afghan TV presenters ordered to cover their faces by Taliban