The World Health Organisation (WHO) Director-General says he is optimistic that the COVID-19 pandemic will be defeated in 2022, provided countries work together to contain its spread.
Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesu warned against “narrow nationalism and vaccine hoarding” in a new year statement, reported Jordan News Agency (Petra).
His comments come two years since the WHO was first notified of cases of an unknown pneumonia strain in China.
Global COVID-19 cases now stand at 287 million, while nearly 5.5 million people have died.
However, WHO cautioned on December 29 that the more transmissible Omicron together with the currently circulating Delta variants might lead to “a tsunami of cases,” putting immense pressure on national health systems, said Xinhua.
Recapping WHO’s response since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Tedros said at a press briefing that he’s “highly concerned that Omicron being more transmissible, circulating at the same time as Delta — is leading to a tsunami of cases”.
“This is and will continue to put immense pressure on exhausted health workers and health systems on the brink of collapse and again disrupting lives and livelihoods,” he said, citing the pressure as not only new COVID-19 patients requiring hospitalisation but also a large number of health workers getting sick themselves.
Tedros reiterated his concern over a recent narrative that Omicron has been causing milder or less severe infections.
“But we are undermining the other side at the same time — it could be dangerous… we shouldn’t undermine the bad news just focusing on the good news,” he said.
“We don’t want people to be complacent, saying this is not severe, this is mild. And we have to be very careful in that narrative,” he said.