Good news people, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared that the end of the COVID-19 pandemic is “in sight”.
Clarification: Being “in sight” does not mean that it is the end yet, so we can’t let our guards down yet.
According to the weekly global deaths figure released on 5 September 2022, the number stands at 11,118, the lowest it has been since March 2020.
That was two years ago, but these past two years have also felt like a fever dream where the world kind of stopped to reckon with this viral infection.
The WHO Chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, “We have never been in a better position to end the pandemic. We are not there yet, but the end is in sight.”
He also urges the world to seize the opportunity, otherwise we might run the risk of more variants, more casualties, disruption, and further uncertainty.
WHO’s latest epidemiological report on COVID-19 states that the number of reported cases has fallen by 28% to 3.1 million in the first full week of September (5 to 11 Sep).
There was a 12% drop the week prior.
As with all viruses and its casualties, it is believed that the numbers are unstated.
The organisation warned that the declining number of reported cases is “deceptive”, since many countries have cut back on testing—like how vaccinated travellers don’t have to take pre-departure and post-arrival tests in some countries for instance.
Either that, or countries may not be detecting the less serious cases as people may be dealing with their COVID-19 infections like a common cold.
Therefore, the numbers reported to WHO are an underestimate.
More cases are probably circulating than what is being reported, hence WHO technical lead Maria Van Kerhove cautions that the virus may be “circulating at a very intense level around the world at the present time”.
In summary, it is better to be safe than sorry.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, the WHO has recorded more than 605 million cases and roughly 6.4 million deaths.
Again, it is believed that both numbers are serious undercounts.
Back in May, the WHO published a study based on the excess mortality seen in various countries, and estimates that up to 17 million people may have perished from COVID-19 between 2020 and 2021.
It also estimated that 19.8 million deaths have been prevented in 2021 owing to the administering of COVID-19 vaccines.
In total, 12 billion doses have been distributed around the world.
Six Policy Briefs
In an attempt to help countries do what is necessary to control the virus, WHO published six policy briefs on Wednesday.
It outlines guidance on testing, vaccination, best practice when managing the virus, maintaining infection control measures in medical facilities, stopping the spread of misinformation, and community engagement.
Among the recommendations, the WHO is entreating countries to vaccinate 100% of the most at-risk groups, including health workers and the elderly, and to continue testing and sequencing for the virus.
Dr Tedros said that the policy briefs are a wake-up call to governments to scrutinise their policies and bolster them for COVID-19 and future disease outbreaks.
One of the papers writes, “With access to and appropriate use of existing life-saving tools, COVID-19 can become a manageable disease with significantly reduced morbidity and mortality.”
In truth, that is the best conclusion that we can hope for when it comes to the coronavirus.
WHO emergencies Michael Ryan reiterates the message given by other WHO officials, saying that the world is “going to have to maintain high levels of vigilance” even as the pandemic becomes less severe.
The coronavirus cannot be underestimated; in the past two years, the virus has shown how highly mutable it can be as it constantly evolved, adapted, and changed.
It was a serious pain for everyone involved.
Let us do our part to make sure that the pandemic doesn’t drag out any longer.
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