The director-general of the World Health Organization said Friday that due to COVID-19 “more than 8,500 people lost their lives last week — which is not acceptable three years into the pandemic, when we have so many tools to prevent infections and save lives.”
Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said last Saturday marked the anniversary of WHO’s announcement of COVID-19’s omicron variant, which he said “has proved to be significantly more transmissible than its predecessor, delta, and continues to cause significant mortality due to the intensity of transmission.”
The WHO chief said omicron has evolved and there are now “over 500 sublineages of omicron circulating” and all of them are “highly transmissible” and “have mutations that enable them to escape built-up immunity more easily.”
While WHO believes the world is “closer to being able to say that the emergency phase of the pandemic is over,” Tedros said, “we are not there yet,” despite WHO estimates that at least 90% of the world’s population has some form of COVID immunity, due to infection of vaccination.
Tedros warned that, “Gaps in surveillance, testing, sequencing and vaccination are continuing to create the perfect conditions for a new variant of concern to emerge that could cause significant mortality.”