The World Health Organization has urged countries not to let their guard down against the coronavirus pandemic, simply because the Omicron variant tends not to cause hospitalizations and deaths as often as previous variants.
“We must not allow this virus to have a free ride, or wave the white flag, especially when so many people around the world are still unvaccinated,” Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, chief executive of the World Health Organization at a press conference. in Geneva.
Since Omicron was first detected in late November, it has raced across the planet, surpassing even some of the best tracking efforts. The daily average of new known global cases has set records every day since the start of the year as much of the world remains unvaccinated. Over the past week, a staggering average of 2.6 million new cases per day have been reported and the world has passed 300 million known cases, according to the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.
These numbers are certainly an underestimate, given the lack of access to testing and the fact that home test results are often not always officially released. Additionally, some public health experts — like Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the U.S. government’s top infectious disease expert — are urging to focus less on case counts and focus more on the number of hospitalizations.
“Let’s be clear: while Omicron causes less severe disease than Delta, it remains a dangerous virus, especially for those who are unvaccinated,” Dr. Tedros said. Referring to the recent global toll of the pandemic, he said: “Nearly 50,000 deaths per week is 50,000 deaths too many. Learning to live with this virus does not mean that we can or should accept this number of deaths. »
In some countries, the increase in the number of new cases has led to new curfews, lockdowns and restrictions, as well as discussions on the need to make vaccinations and boosters compulsory. But many other countries have not changed course significantly, and some are finding that new virus control measures cannot overcome stiff political opposition.
The French government said on Wednesday it would keep the country open despite record virus cases, growing public frustration over testing protocols in schools and the threat of teacher strikes over Covid safety.
Germany’s new coalition government has postponed a parliamentary debate on a proposed national vaccination mandate, after large protests in Düsseldorf, Frankfurt and Magdeburg and rallies in many other cities against pandemic measures imposed to slow the spread of the virus. Omicron variant.
Indian leaders have offered mixed messages by holding crowded political rallies while ordering curfews and business closures. Australia recently relaxed its isolation rules to reduce labor shortages and pressure on testing facilities.
And in the United States, a group of health experts who advised President Biden’s transition team published a series of articles last week calling on the White House to reset its response to Covid in a way that would recognize the “new normal” of living with the virus indefinitely.
Worldwide, however, around 72% of shots that went into guns were administered in high and upper-middle income countries, according to the University of Oxford‘s Our World in Data project. Only 1% of doses were administered in low-income countries.
“A big part of the problem is that we’ve made it twice as difficult, even three times harder, for low-income countries, many of them, to be able to achieve high coverage,” he said. Dr Bruce Aylward, senior WHO official. adviser, said at the press conference.
Dr Aylward said rich countries had been slow and stingy in sharing vaccines and other vital supplies with the rest of the world. “What we shared was a lot of misinformation,” he said.