A senior WHO official said on Tuesday that while it is impossible to eradicate the COVID-19 virus as such viruses never disappear and become part of the ecosystem, it is possible to stop the public emergency caused by COVID-19 End health this year by working together to address systemic imbalances. The Executive Director of the World Health Organization’s Health Emergencies Programme, Michael Ryan, said it must be done to ensure truly low levels of disease incidence with the maximum vaccination of the entire world population, while speaking at the World Economic Forum’s Davos Agenda 2022 online summit.
“What we can end is the public health emergency this year, but it’s about deaths, about hospitalizations and about the destruction of social, economic and political systems that caused the tragedy. The virus is just a vehicle,” he said. The WHO official said it was society’s response to the virus that caused the tragedy as he described “the inequality, including access to health facilities, and all these long-standing social inequalities and these huge inequalities not only between countries, but also internally” accused of injustices within countries”. “Yes, we have a chance to end this public health emergency this year if we do the right things to right these injustices. But the reality is that this tragedy will continue,” he said.
“That, in my view, will be the end of the public health emergency and that would be an end of this pandemic,” he said, adding that there is a chance of that happening this year. The global spread of the deadly virus, first reported in China’s Wuhan in late 2019, has resulted in more than 33 million confirmed cases worldwide and over 55.5 lakh deaths so far. The World Health Organization (WHO) had declared the outbreak a “public health emergency of international concern” on January 30, 2020 and a pandemic on March 11, 2020. The reintroduction of national lockdowns, travel bans and quarantines in various parts of the world has heightened the uncertainty of the COVID -19 pandemic intensified. “We will not end the virus this year. We may never end this virus. Pandemic viruses eventually become part of the ecosystem,” Ryan said.
Ryan also tried to warn of an emerging narrative about whether the COVID-19 pandemic is on its way to becoming endemic in nature. “Endemic just means it’s there forever. Even endemic diseases kill hundreds of thousands of people and we shouldn’t think it’s a good thing when a pandemic becomes endemic,” he added. Gabriela Bucher, Executive Director of Oxfam International, said at the same meeting it was possible to end the pandemic if we radically overhaul the model to ensure truly equitable distribution.
The WHO also criticizes the uneven distribution of vaccines and calls on manufacturers and other countries to participate in COVAX, the United Nations-backed program to deliver vaccines to poor countries. To date it has delivered 1 billion doses. According to the WHO, 36 of its 194 member countries have vaccinated less than 10 percent of the population and 88 less than 40 percent of the population. Poonawalla, whose Serum Institute of India has been a key member of the GAVI Alliance, said his company stands ready to support the pool in achieving global vaccine equity. John Nkengasong, director of the African Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said greater cooperation and more solidarity are the way to go if we want this pandemic to end.
Adar Poonawalla, CEO of Serum Institute of India, said the definition of the pandemic is evolving every day. “I’m not an expert but there will come a point where we will reach a certain level of vaccination, hopefully by the end of this year when everyone is double or triple vaccinated then we can probably say that. And that would also depend on what types of new variants emerge and how many hospitalizations remain under control,” he added. In doing so, he answered a question as to whether the end of the pandemic was in sight. Seth F. Berkley, CEO of the Gavi Vaccine Alliance, said the COVAX program has been successful, but not without bumps along the way.
Summary of the news:
- It is impossible to eradicate this virus; Pandemic viruses are eventually becoming part of ecology, says a WHO official
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