The global health authority declared Covid-19 a Public Health Emergency of International Concern three years ago.
Briefing the media, WHO director-general, Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus said since the beginning of December last year, the number of weekly reported deaths from Covid-19 has been increasing, adding in total, in the past eight weeks, more than 170 thousand people have died of Covid-19.
“My message is clear – do not underestimate this virus, it has and will continue to surprise us and it will continue to kill unless we do more to get health tools to people that need them and to comprehensively tackle misinformation,” said Ghebreyesus.
He said WHO’s highest level of alert, the Emergency Committee on COVID-19 will this week meet to discuss whether the current situation still constitutes a global emergency.
“While I will not pre-empt the advice of the Emergency Committee, I remain very concerned by the situation in many countries and the rising number of deaths,” decried the WHO chief.
“While we are clearly in better shape than three years ago when this pandemic first hit, the global collective response is once again under strain. Too few people – especially older people and health workers – are adequately vaccinated. Too many people are behind on their boosters. For too many people, antivirals remain expensive and out of reach. And too many people don’t receive the right care.”
Fragile health systems, Ghebreyesus said, were struggling to cope with the burden of Covid-19, on top of caring for patients with other diseases.
“Surveillance and genetic sequencing have declined dramatically, making it more difficult to track known variants and detect new ones,” said Ghebreyesus.
“And there is a torrent of pseudo-science and misinformation circulating, which is undermining trust in safe and effective tools for Covid-19.”