Do not assume that the COVID pandemic reaches the ‘playoffs’, warns WHO
Do not assume that the COVID pandemic reaches the ‘playoffs’, warns WHO

Do not assume that the COVID pandemic reaches the ‘playoffs’, warns WHO

  • Tedros warns against going between ‘panic and neglect’
  • Pandemic in third year with nearly 6 million dead
  • More variants are likely to follow Omicron, warns WHO

GENEVA, January 24 (Reuters) – The head of the World Health Organization (WHO) warned on Monday that it was dangerous to assume that the Omicron variant would herald the end of the acute phase of COVID-19 and urge nations to stay focused to beat the pandemic.

“It is dangerous to assume that Omicron will be the last variant and that we are in the playoffs,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a WHO board meeting about the two-year pandemic that has killed nearly 6 million people.

“On the contrary, the conditions globally are ideal for more varieties to emerge.”

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Although Omicron has sent the total number of cases to nearly 350 million, its less lethal effect and the increasing prevalence of vaccines have led to optimism in some parts that the worst pandemic may be over.

Tedros, WHO’s first African leader to be line up without resistance for another periodcalled for discipline and unity in the fight against coronavirus.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is now entering its third year and we are at a critical time,” he told a news conference earlier. “We must work together to end the acute phase of this pandemic. We cannot allow it to continue to drag on and hover between panic and neglect.”


Countries need to maximize strategies and tools already available, such as testing and inoculation, for the global health crisis to expire this year, he said.

Tedros’ bid for another term got a boost when the WHO shelved a decision on his home country Ethiopia’s request to investigate allegations of links to rebel forces. Read more

He told board members he sought a revision of the agency’s funding model, with Germany now the largest donor, replacing Washington, which had accused the WHO of pro-China bias under former President Donald Trump’s administration.

The United States opposes a funding proposal that would make the UN health agency more independent, raising doubts The Biden administration long-term support. Read more

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Reporting by Emma Farge and Paul Carrel; Edited by Toby Chopra and Andrew Cawthorne

Our standards: Thomson Reuters trust principles.

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