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WHO Chief warns against talk of ‘endgame’ in pandemic

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A fourth dose of the COVID-19 vaccine being administered in Ramat Gan, Israel.
A fourth dose of the COVID-19 vaccine being administered in Ramat Gan, Israel.






SWITZERLAND, INDIA, ISRAEL: World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has warned against assuming that the acute phase of the coronavirus pandemic is coming to an end.

Tedros said hitting the target of 70% vaccination in all countries by mid-2020 was crucial. The World Health Organization Director-General on Monday said it was dangerous to assume that the acute phase of the COVID pandemic was coming to an end.

Tedros said it should not be assumed that the omicron variant was the last strain of any significance, and that the pandemic might soon fizzle out.

“There are different scenarios for how the pandemic could play out and how the acute phase could end. But it’s dangerous to assume that omicron will be the last variant or that we are in the endgame,” Tedros told a WHO executive board meeting.

“On the contrary, globally, the conditions are ideal for more variants to emerge.’’ However, Tedros insisted: “We can end COVID-19 as a global health emergency, and we can do it this year.”

He said this could best be done by trying to reach goals like the WHO’s target to vaccinate 70% of the population of each country by the middle of 2020.

Meanwhile, India’s COVID-19 infections, led by the Omicron variant, may see a sharp rise in the coming weeks, some top experts said, noting that the variant was already in community transmission and hospitals were seeing more patients despite a decline in cases in major cities.

“Omicron is now in community transmission in India and has become dominant in multiple metros,” a report by the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG) said on January 10 in a report released on Sunday.

Most cases of the Omicron variant have been mild, the advisory group said, although hospitalisations and cases in intensive care were increasing.

In last two weeks major cities such as the capital, Delhi, and financial hub Mumbai in the wealthiest state of Maharashtra, have been reporting big falls in cases after hitting peaks.

Meanwhile, A fourth dose of COVID-19 vaccine given to people over 60 in Israel made them three times more resistant to serious illness than thrice-vaccinated people in the same age group, Israel’s Health Ministry said on Sunday.

The ministry also said the fourth dose, or second booster, made people over 60 twice as resistant to infection than those in the age group who received three shots of the vaccine.

A preliminary study published by Israel’s Sheba medical centre last Monday found that the fourth shot increases antibodies to even higher levels than the third but “probably” not to the point that it could completely fend off the highly transmissible Omicron variant.



Wednesday, January 26, 2022 – 01:00

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