The World Health Organization (WHO), which previously indicated that the end of the COVID-19 pandemic was in sight, has declared that it remains a global health emergency of international concern.
The WHO first declared the emergency in January 2020.
But the world body’s emergency committee met on Friday and advised WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus that the status of the virus remained the same.
In an address to the committee, Tedros observed that as the world enters the fourth year of the pandemic, it is in a much better position now a year ago, when the Omicron wave was at its peak, and more than 70 thousand deaths were being reported to WHO each week.
However, the WHO Chief noted that since the beginning of December, the number of weekly reported deaths globally has been rising.
In addition, Tedros said the lifting of restrictions in China has led to a spike in deaths in the world’s most populous nation.
“Vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics have been critical in preventing severe disease, saving lives, and taking the pressure off health systems and health workers. But the global response remains hobbled because, in too many countries, these powerful, life-saving tools are still not getting to the populations that need them most – especially older people and health workers,” he pointed out.
In addition, Tedros said many health systems worldwide struggle to cope with COVID-19 while caring for patients with other diseases, with work shortages and fatigued health workers.
At the same time, he noted that surveillance and genetic sequencing had declined dramatically worldwide, making it more challenging to track known variants and detect new ones.
“And public trust in the safe and effective tools for controlling COVID-19 is being undermined by a continuous torrent of misinformation and disinformation,” the WHO official lamented.