WHO chief says end in sight for COVID-19 pandemic

FABRICE COFFRINI/ POOL/ AFP [File photo]

The world has never been in a better position to end the COVID-19 pandemic, the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Wednesday, urging nations to keep up their efforts against the virus.

"We are not there yet. But the end is in sight," WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters at a virtual press conference.

Deaths from COVID-19 last week were the lowest since March 2020, the UN agency reported.

While the WHO expects continued future waves of COVID-19 infections, the world had tools in hand such as vaccines and antivirals to prevent serious infections, said Maria Kerkhove, technical lead for COVID-19.

The virus has killed nearly 6.5 million people and infected 606 million, roiling global economies and overwhelming healthcare systems.

The rollout of vaccines and therapies has helped to stem the severity of the disease. 

Still, countries need to take a hard look at their policies and strengthen them for COVID-19 and future viruses, Tedros said.

He also urged nations to vaccinate 100 per cent of their high-risk groups and keep testing for the virus.

The WHO warned of the possibility of future waves of the virus and said countries need to maintain adequate supplies of medical equipment and healthcare workers.

Monkeypox cases, too, were on a downtrend but Tedros urged countries to keep up the fight.

"As with COVID-19, this is not the time to relax or let down our guard."

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