The global health authority was however quick to say that did not mean the pandemic was over.
“WHO estimates that at least 90% of the world’s population now has some level of immunity to SARS-CoV-2 (virus that causes COVID-19), due to prior infection or vaccination,” said WHO director-general, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus while briefing the media recently.
“We are much closer to being able to say that the emergency phase of the pandemic is over – but we’re not there yet.
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.”
He said WHO continues to urge all countries to take a risk-based approach that protects both public health and human rights.
“Last Saturday (November 26) marked one year since WHO announced a new variant of concern in the COVID-19 pandemic: the Omicron variant,” said the WHO chief.
“Omicron has proved to be significantly more transmissible than its predecessor, Delta, and continues to cause significant mortality due to the intensity of transmission.
The number of weekly deaths reported to WHO has declined slightly over the past five weeks, but 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.”
He added: “Since the emergence of Omicron, the virus has continued to evolve.
Today, there are over 500 sublineages of Omicron circulating.
They are all highly transmissible, they replicate in the upper respiratory tract and tend to cause less severe disease than previous variants of concern, and they all have mutations that enable them to escape built-up immunity more easily.”