COVID-19 Pandemic ‘Certainly Not Over,’ WHO Chief Says

Just when you though it was over, out comes the World Health Organization to say, not so fast.

The COVID-19 pandemic is “most certainly not over,” warned Tedros Ghebreyesus, head of the World Health Organization (WHO), on Sunday.

Although deaths from a current variant of COVID-19, known as Omicron, have dropped precipitously, the WHO head said “we lower our guard at our peril,” according to the United Nations.

“So, is COVID-19 over? No, it’s most certainly not over. I know that’s not the message you want to hear, and it’s definitely not the message I want to deliver,” he said.

Ghebreyesus told officials gathered in Geneva for the opening of the WHO’s annual meeting that declining testing and sequencing means “we are blinding ourselves to the evolution of the virus.” In addition, he said that while billions are vaccinated against the virus, nearly one billion people in lower-income countries still are not.

While some 60% of the world’s population is vaccinated, he said, “it’s not over anywhere until it’s over everywhere.”

Ghebreyesus mentioned that “Reported cases are increasing in almost 70 countries in all regions,” the UN reported.

“… And this in a world in which testing rates have plummeted,” the WHO head added.

He noted that the virus is spreading rapidly in Africa, where the vaccination rate is the lowest worldwide. And he said while there appears to be ample supply of the vaccine, there is “insufficient political commitment to roll out vaccines” in some countries, while there remain gaps in “operational or financial capacity” in other nations.

“In all, we see vaccine hesitancy driven by misinformation and disinformation,” Ghebreyesus said. “The pandemic will not magically disappear. But we can end it. We have the knowledge. We have the tools. Science has given us the upper hand,” he said, calling on countries to work together to reach 70% of vaccination coverage.

Ghebreyesus also said the virus is staying ahead of vaccines. “This virus has surprised us at every turn – a storm that has torn through communities again and again, and we still can’t predict its path, or its intensity,” he said.

“The WHO chief also warned that increasing transmission means more deaths and more risk of a new variant emerging, and the current decline of testing and sequencing means ‘we are blinding ourselves to the evolution of the virus,’” the UN said in a statement.

Joseph Curl has covered politics for 35 years, including 12 years as White House correspondent for a national newspaper. He was also the a.m. editor of the Drudge Report for four years. Send tips to and follow him on Twitter @josephcurl.

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