During a World Health Organisation (WHO) Press Conference in Geneva, Switzerland, held yesterday (29 December), WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus forewarned about a new tide of COVID cases owing to the twin-threat of the Delta and Omicron variants, especially owing to the latter’s heightened transmissibility and ability to avoid the human immune system.
To torture a common saying, when it rains, it really does pour.
In Dr Tedros’ opening speech, he states, “While there were 1.8 million recorded deaths in 2020, there were 3.5 million in 2021 and we know that the actual number is much higher.
“This is not to mention to the millions of people dealing with the long-term consequences from the virus.”
Dr. Tedros worries that this will place more pressure on the already fatigued workers and strained health systems, in addition to how it might disrupt livelihoods once more with tighter restrictions being reinstated again.
Dangers of the Omicron Variant
The Omicron Variant was first discovered on 17 Nov when South African scientists examined the new variant’s genomes, with approximately 100 cases of this variant found and centred around the most populated province of Gauteng.
Compared to the Delta Variant, which is already two times more contagious than the original COVID-19, the Omicron mutation is “associated with resistance to neutralising antibodies and enhanced transmissibility”, which increases its contagiousness further. Rigorous studies are still undergoing to understand the full extent of its significance.
The Call for Solidarity
While science has made immense headway in the creation of vaccines, the WHO Director-General rightly points out the fact that there have been a hoarding of health and pharmaceutical implements, and vaccines, which has led to a vaccine inequity across the world.
Moreover, the misinformation that is being spread by a select minority has caused vaccine apprehensions, which makes the constant dissemination and fact-checking for accurate information from government sources vitally important.
Dr Tedros urges its United Nation (UN) members at large to learn from the mistakes of hubris committed in the past, asking the richer countries to offer a helping hand to the poorer nations and increase the world vaccine coverage to 40% by the end of 2021, for the unvaccinated stand a greater risk of exposure to the virus, especially when the newer variants are transmitted so quickly, and to prevent a larger spike of casualties.
In his words, “This is the time to rise above short-term nationalism and protect populations and economies against future variants by ending global vaccine inequity.”
Hope for the Future
However, not all hope is lost: there have been great successes and breakthroughs in the creation of the vaccines since 2019, matched with the willingness to share the essential technology globally.
The WHO hopes to improve and strengthen the cooperation between its Member States through the newly established WHO Bio Hub which seeks to offer a reliable and secure environment for its Member States to willingly share new insights to combat and put an end to the pandemic.
The WHO Director-General also hopes that 70% of the world population can be vaccinated by the middle of 2022.
As it stands in Singapore, the Ministry of Manpower reports that there are still 52,000 employees who remain unvaccinated, and to these people in question:
Better safe than sorry lah.
Please get vaccinated. It’s free.
If not you might lose your job.
To know more about how Singapore is treating Omicron cases, watch this video to the end:
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