The head of the World Health Organization warned on Monday that COVID-19 will be around for the foreseeable future and everyone will have to learn to live with it. The head of the WHO issued a warning at the opening of a week-long meeting of the agency’s executive board.
Two years ago, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a public health emergency of international concern. At that time, fewer than 100 cases were reported outside of China and no deaths were reported. Those numbers now stand at nearly 350 million cases and more than 5.5 million deaths.
WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said it is difficult to say when the pandemic will end. However, as long as the coronavirus circulates, he said it will continue to mutate in unpredictable and dangerous ways.
“It is dangerous to assume that omicron will be the last option or that we are in an endgame. On the contrary, on a global scale, conditions are ideal for the emergence of new options,” he said.
Tedros said countries need to learn how to deal with this deadly disease and use the knowledge gained to prepare for future pandemics. In order to change the course of a pandemic, the conditions that cause it must change, he said.
According to him, the acute phase of the pandemic can be completed this year if countries use all available strategies and tools to combat COVID-19. He adds that this will only work if all countries, rich and poor alike, have equal access to vaccines, treatments and other means.
“Vaccines in and of themselves are not the golden ticket from this pandemic. But there is no way out if we do not achieve our overall goal of vaccinating 70 percent of the population of every country by the middle of this year. We have a long way to go,” he said.
The head of the WHO notes that 86 countries failed to meet last year’s goal of vaccinating 40 percent of their population.
He warned that the emergency phase of the pandemic would not end until the gap between rich and poor countries was closed.