The leaders of the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday that the world needs to remain vigilant against COVID-19 – although pandemic trends in some countries appear to be heading in a positive direction.
In a Q&A, Dr. expressed Mike Ryan and Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove concern about the public’s perception of the pandemic as a settlement.
In recent months, health leaders have eased or loosened restrictions and measures such as wearing a mask or requiring proof of vaccination against the virus.
Ryan, the executive director of the WHO Health Emergencies Program, said there are still scenarios where the world could “reset” the pandemic.
He said it was “within our control” – a choice for a better future rather than fate.
While normalization is something the agency wants to see, Ryan noted what they “do not want to see is a situation where we minimize the uncertainty we face.”
“Or we minimize potential scenarios where things can go wrong. We do not want people sitting up day and night worrying about what will happen to SARS-CoV-2 or COVID,” he said.
And then the world needs to maintain vigilance and “keep pushing,” Ryan added, because it is not going through a phase where coronavirus can be considered “like any other virus.”
“Every other virus does not kill 52,000 people around the world with a low estimate and 10 million cases every week. It is not just any other virus,” he noted.
Van Kerkhove, WHO’s COVID-19 Technical Lead, said she was concerned about a drop in testing.
That contagious disease epidemiologist also called on the world to remain vigilant as “[we are] still in this flood. ”
“What we do not want to do right now is live through passivity because we are tired of it,” Van Kerkhove noted.
“You will keep hearing our frustration because we all live this every day and we want it over as much as you do, but we can not remove it and we are still very much in this flood,” she said .
To date, data from the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center shows that more than six million COVID-related deaths have been reported worldwide, with more than 967,000 in the United States
However, pandemic deaths are likely to be underreported, with one examination out Thursday to state that 18 million people had died due to the pandemic by the end of 2021.