WHO chief hopes 2022 may see start of ‘end of pandemic’


GENEVA: The head of the World Health Organization has struck a hopeful note about beating the pandemic in 2022 in a New Year’s Eve message, saying the world had the “tools to end this calamity” even as daily new Covid cases worldwide reached new records.

But the optimistic post from WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, which he shared on LinkedIn Thursday, came with a warning: The longer inequity continues, the longer the pandemic will persist.

Ghebreyesus said after two years, we now know this virus well. We know the proven measures to control transmission: mask use, avoiding crowds, maintaining physical distancing, practicing hand and respiratory hygiene, opening windows for ventilation, testing and contact tracing.

We know how to treat the disease it causes and improve the chances of survival for people suffering serious illness. With all these learnings and capacities, the opportunity to turn this pandemic around for good is in our grasp.

Two years in, the tools available to fight Covid-19 remain unevenly distributed around the world. In Africa, three in four health care workers remain unvaccinated, while people in Europe and the United States are receiving third booster doses.

That gap has made the chances of new variants emerging more likely, “locking us into a cycle of continued loss, hardship and restrictions,” Tedros said.“If we end inequity, we end the pandemic, and end the global nightmare we have all lived through. And this is possible,” he added.

As part of his New Year resolutions, the WHO chief said he would work in collaboration with governments to prioritize vaccine deliveries to global initiatives, like COVAX and AVAT, with the target of vaccinating 70% of people in all countries by mid-2022.

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