The World Health Organization has said the Covid-19 pandemic is far from over, despite plummeting cases in Europe. Director General of the UN health body, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned Tuesday, January 18, that people shouldn’t go with the narrative that the the Omicron variant is risk-free.
Omicron is much more contagious than previous strains but seems to cause less serious disease in patients. That has triggered a debate on the virus passing from being a pandemic to becoming endemic – with the implication that the danger will have passed. But the WHO boss says the huge numbers of people infected means many vulnerable people will still fall ill and dye.
‘This pandemic is nowhere near over,’ Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters from WHO’s headquarters in Geneva. ‘Omicron may be less severe, on average, but the narrative that it is a mild disease is misleading,’ Tedros said. “Make no mistake, Omicron is causing hospitalisations and deaths, and even the less severe cases are inundating health facilities.’
He said there were indications that the Omicron-fuelled surge of Covid cases may have peaked in some countries. This, he said, ‘gives hope that the worst of this latest wave is done with, but no country is out of the woods yet.’ ‘Now is not the time to give up and wave the white flag,’ he said. ‘We can still significantly reduce the impact of the current wave by sharing and using health tools effectively, and implementing public health and social measures that we know work.’
‘Vaccines may be less effective at preventing infection and transmission of Omicron than they were for previous variants, but they still are exceptionally good at preventing serious disease and death,’ he said.
‘With the incredible growth of Omicron globally, new variants are likely to emerge,’ Tedros cautioned.
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