World Health Organization (WHO) Director Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Wednesday that the end of the COVID-19 pandemic was within reach, after promising figures were released.
Last week the number of weekly deaths from Covid-19 fell to its lowest level since March 2020. We have never been in a better position to end the pandemic. It is not over yet, but its end is within reach, said Tedros from Geneva. We can all see the finish line, we are on the verge of winning. It would truly be the worst time to stop running, he added.
If we don't seize this opportunity, we risk having more variants, more deaths, more problems, and more uncertainty, he insisted.
According to the WHO's latest epidemiological report, the number of cases fell by 28% in the week from Sept. 5 to 11 compared to the previous week, although the number of infections is believed to be higher due to underreporting of low severity cases, and also because many countries have dismantled their testing infrastructure. The number of deaths also fell by 22% to less than 11,000.
In September, WHO confirmed over 600 million cases and just over 6.4 million deaths worldwide, which are presumed to be lower than the actual figures.
An agency study based on projections and assessments published in May suggested there could be between 13 and 17 million more covid deaths by the end of 2021 than confirmed.
In this scenario, WHO published a series of guidelines Wednesday, urging countries to vaccinate 100% of vulnerable people and healthcare workers, keep up the testing and maintain programs to track new potentially dangerous variants.
A person who runs marathons does not stop before reaching the finish line, but runs more and with all his energy. We are in an advantageous position and we see the finish line, but it is the worst time to stop running, but what we have to do is to run faster and make sure we cross the finish line, Tedros stressed.
It has already been shown that the more the virus circulates, the more chances there are for it to mutate. We expect that there will be new waves of infection, so there is still a lot to do, WHO's lead epidemiologist Maria Van Kerkhove underlined.