Calling Omicron ‘Mild’ A Mistake, Warns WHO

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GENEVA, Switzerland (AFP)— The Omicron variant of COVID-19 is killing people across the globe and should not be dismissed as mild, the World Health Organization insisted Thursday.

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the record numbers of people catching the new variant — which is rapidly out-competing the previously-dominant Delta variant in many countries — meant hospitals were being overwhelmed.

“While Omicron does appear to be less severe compared to Delta, especially in those vaccinated, it does not mean it should be categorised as mild,” Tedros told a press conference.

“Just like previous variants, Omicron is hospitalising people and it is killing people,” he explained.

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“In fact, the tsunami of cases is so huge and quick, that it is overwhelming health systems around the world.”

Just under 9.5 million new COVID-19 cases were reported to the WHO last week — a record, up 71 per cent on the week before.

But even this was an underestimate, Tedros said, as it did not reflect the backlog of testing around the Christmas-New Year holidays, positive self-tests not registered, and overburdened surveillance systems missing cases.

 Vaccination targets slipping away –

Tedros used his first speech of 2022 to slam the way rich nations hogged available vaccine doses last year, saying it had created the perfect breeding ground for the emergence of virus variants.

He therefore urged the world to share out vaccine doses more fairly in 2022, to end the “death and destruction” of COVID-19.

Tedros wanted every country to have 10 per cent of their population vaccinated by the end of September 2021 and 40 per cent by the end of December.

Ninety-two of the WHO’s 194 member states missed the target set for the end of 2021 — indeed 36 of them had not even jabbed the first 10 per cent, largely due to being unable to access doses.

Tedros wants 70 per cent jabbed in every country by mid-2022.

On the current pace of vaccine roll-out, 109 countries will miss that target.

“Vaccine inequity is a killer of people and jobs and it undermines a global economic recovery,” said Tedros.

“Booster after booster in a small number of countries will not end a pandemic while billions remain completely unprotected.”

– Omicron not the end –

The WHO’s COVID-19 technical lead Maria Van Kerkhove said it was “very unlikely” that Omicron would be the last variant of concern before the pandemic is over.

In facing the more transmissible Omicron variant, Van Kerkhove urged people to step up the measures they were already taking to protect themselves against the virus.

“Do everything that we have been advising better, more comprehensively, more purposefully,” she said.

“We need people to hang in there and really fight.”

Van Kerkhove added that she was stunned by how sloppily some people were wearing facemasks.

“It needs to cover your nose and mouth… wearing a mask below your chin is useless,” she said.

Looking ahead to this year, Bruce Aylward, the WHO’s frontman on accessing coronavirus tools, added that there was “no need to finish 2022 in a pandemic”.

But WHO emergencies director Michael Ryan said that without vaccine equity, “we will be sitting here at the end of 2022 having somewhat the same conversation, which, in itself, would be a great tragedy”.

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Editorial Staff
Editorial Staff
Our Editorial Staff at St. Lucia Times is a team publishing news and other articles to over 200,000 regular monthly readers in Saint Lucia and in over 150 other countries worldwide.

2 COMMENTS

  1. He’s right. I think our saving grace somewhat at the moment, is the fact that a good chunk of the World population has already been either vaccinated, and/or recently been infected with the virus. Whilst immunity might be waning, it still offers some protection in this new wave. Looking at the surge in hospitalizations and deaths ( mostly in the unvaccinated ), it just doesn’t make me confidently feel that this new variant is any less serious or concerning than the Delta or Alpha. Hospitalization and deaths always tells the real story.

  2. The lyrics of Lord Nelson’s “King Liar” was the first thing to cross my mind when I read this article reporting on the WHO chief’s Covid-19 “fear porn:”

    LYRICS FOR “KING LIAR”
    (performed by Lord Nelson)

    [verse 1]
    I know some of you wouldn’t believe me
    But if I lie, ask meh good friend Marky
    It was a big lying competition
    To see who they would crown as lying champion
    Liars from all parts of the West Indies
    Big shot liars from all dem foreign countries
    From a field about a thousand or so entry
    In two days it boil down and leave just 3
    I had meh eye on “Liar de Lion”
    Cause I know he does come with some good ones
    But they had a younger fella named Devo
    Come from some village there in Tobago
    He same he father is Tobago’s best fisherman
    Catch a fish a mile wide, 80 feet in span
    He had to tie it on de boat and swim back to land
    To get he brother Eric to give him a hand

    [chorus]
    Yuh hear lie, Dat is lie
    Lie , yuh hear lie
    Teacher Percy say if yuh tell ah lie
    You going to hell as soon as yuh die

    [verse 2]
    Liar de Lion, he laugh till he sweat
    He say Mr Devo eh say nothin yet
    If you really want to hear bout fishin
    Let me blow you mind, now listen to something
    When you talking bout fish, yuh just hit de spot
    I was hoping you did believe it or not
    The fish yuh father caught, fuh you it was great
    But is dem small fish meh father does use fuh bait
    Lion went ahead on points in de show
    Completely eliminated Mr Devo
    De next man to beat was “Wil The Outrageous”
    He ask de judges if he could lie first
    The judges asked Lion, the Lion agreed
    He said any topic Wil pick is alright with me
    He outrageous, I strong, let we meet head on
    And when we done see who head fit to wear de crown

    [chorus]
    Yuh hear lie, Dat is lie
    Lie , yuh hear lie
    Teacher Percy say if yuh tell ah lie
    You going to hell as soon as yuh die

    [verse 3]
    De outrageous say that he knew a tailor
    Comes to making suit, de man is a master
    If you show him a man coming round a corner
    He could make him a suit and don’t even measure
    Ah talking bout suit sitting down correct
    Expertly made and fitting perfect
    He used to sew for Shakespeare, make suit for Hamlet
    And up to this day he eh make a mistake yet
    You know de crowd went wild, they couldn’t cool down
    Ah say Liar de Lion losing he crown
    De judges brought de crowd back to order
    And ask de Lion to lie bout a tailor
    He said my man is de best, Rolfy is his name
    Cutting cloth, making suit is his game
    Doh show him de man, my tailor is class
    Just show him de corner whey de fella pass
    And he go make a suit, dat is tailor

    [chorus]
    Yuh hear lie, King liar
    Teacher Percy say if yuh tell ah lie
    You going to hell as soon as yuh die

    Teacher Percy say if yuh tell ah lie
    You going to hell as soon as yuh die

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