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WHO Director General: The end of the Covid-19 pandemic is in Sight

WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the end of the Covid-19 pandemic was in sight. “We are not there yet. But the end is in sight,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters at a virtual news conference.

WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus
WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus

It was the UN agency’s most optimistic assessment since declaring an international emergency in January 2022. The WHO confirmed Covid-19 as a pandemic three months later. The virus that emerged in China in late 2019 has killed nearly 6.5 million people and infected 606 million people. The Covid-19 pandemic has also rocked the global economy and overwhelmed the healthcare system.

The launch of vaccines and therapies for Covid-19 patients has helped stem deaths and hospitalizations. The Omicron variant, which appeared late last year, causes less severe disease. The WHO reported last week’s deaths from Covid-19 were the lowest since March 2020. WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus urged countries to maintain vigilance and liken the pandemic to a marathon.

“Now is the time to run even harder and make sure we push the limits and reap the rewards of all our hard work,” he said. Countries need to look closely at their policies and strengthen their efforts to deal with Covid-19 and future viruses. He also urged countries to vaccinate 100% of their high-risk groups and continue testing for the virus.

WHO says countries need to maintain adequate supplies of medical equipment and health workers. “We expect there will be future waves of infections, potentially at different points in time around the world caused by different Omicron subvariants or even different variants,” said WHO senior epidemiologist Maria Van Kerkhove.

With more than 1 million deaths this year, he said, the pandemic remains an emergency globally and in most countries. “The Covid-19 summer wave, driven by Omicron BA.4 and BA.5, shows that the pandemic is not over as the virus continues to circulate in Europe and beyond,” said a spokesperson for the European Commission.

The next meeting of WHO experts is to decide whether the pandemic still constitutes a public health emergency of international concern.

WHO Director General: Deaths Due to Covid-19 Reaches 15 Million People During the Pandemic

The World Health Organization (WHO) or the World Health Organization estimates that the number of deaths during the two years of the Covid-19 pandemic has reached 15 million people worldwide. This three times the official data reported by many countries, namely 5.4 million people. Expert from the WHO data department, Samira Asma, said the data showed a tragedy. “The numbers are staggering and important for us to respect the lives lost, and we must hold policy makers to account,” said Samira, quoted by the BBC, Thursday (5/5).

WHO counts the number of deaths not only those who died directly infected with Covid-19 but also those caused by its side effects. Such as those who are unable to access hospitals to get the care they need.

Among them are Egypt, India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Bolivia, the Philippines and Russia. WHO records Egypt as a country whose death rate during the pandemic is 11.6 times higher than official data. India is second with its death toll during the pandemic being 9.9 times higher and Pakistan could be eight times as high.

Indonesia is in fourth place with an estimated true death rate during the pandemic 7.1 times higher than official data. Based on Worldometer data, the number of deaths due to Covid-19 in Indonesia is 156,340. WHO found that the most unreported death rate was in lower middle-income countries, at 53%. The more developed and rich a country is, the better and more accurate its data system.

The academics who helped compile the report admit their estimates are more speculative for countries in sub-Saharan Africa, because there is so little data on deaths in the region. There are no reliable statistics for 41 of 54 countries in Africa. Statistician Prof Jon Wakefield, from the University of Washington in Seattle, is assisting the WHO and told the BBC: “We really need a better data collection system.”

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