On Wednesday, the World Health Organization announced that deaths from the Covid-19 virus had dropped by 95 percent since the beginning of the year, but warned that the virus was still present.
“It is encouraging to see the continued decline in deaths from COVID-19, down 95 percent since the beginning of the year,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a press conference.
“However, death rates are increasing in some countries and in the last four weeks, 14,000 people have died from the disease,” he added.
“The appearance of the new XBB.1.16 mutant shows that the virus is still mutating and is still capable of causing new waves,” he warned.
Maria Van Gerkov, technical director of the World Health Organization’s Emergencies Programme, said the XBB subspecies is now dominant worldwide.
He pointed out that these mutants are characterized by their ability to grow and evade the immune system, meaning that infected people can catch the virus again even after taking vaccines.
He called for increased surveillance through testing, “so we can track the virus and understand what these variations mean”.
Tedros reaffirmed that the World Health Organization is still confident the World Health Organization will end the Covid-19 outbreak, as a panel to report on the virus situation is scheduled to meet next month.
“This virus is here to stay and all countries need to learn how to deal with it along with other infectious diseases,” he said.
Tedros noted that an estimated 1 in 10 infections have caused long-term Covid-19, meaning hundreds of millions of people will need long-term care.
The head of the World Health Organization also revealed that the Covid-19 pandemic disrupted vaccination programs for other diseases, with around 67 million children missing out on at least one basic vaccine injection between 2019 and 2021.
Vaccination rates have fallen since 2008, leading to outbreaks of measles, diphtheria, polio and yellow fever, calling on all countries to tackle “barriers to vaccination”.
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