The COVID-19 pandemic is a long way from over, the World Health Organisation, WHO declared on Monday.
The Director-General of the WHO, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said transmission of the COVID-19 virus was being driven by what he described as confusion, complacency, and inconsistency in public health measures.
Tedros who spoke yesterday in Geneva during a world press conference said: “So far, some 780 million vaccines have been administered globally, but measures including wearing masks and maintaining physical distancing must be applied to reverse the trajectory.
“We too want to see societies and economies reopening, and travel and trade resuming. But right now, intensive care units in many countries are overflowing and people are dying – and it’s totally avoidable.
“This disease (COVID-19) is not flu. Young, healthy people have died. And we still don’t fully understand the long-term consequences of infection for those who survive.”
Continuing, Tedros observed that many people who have suffered even mild COVID-19 disease report long-term symptoms including fatigue, weakness, “brain fog”, dizziness, tremors, insomnia, depression, anxiety, joint pain, chest tightness, and more.
“The COVID19 pandemic is a long way from over,” he declared, even as he noted that there were many reasons for optimism.
“The decline in cases and deaths during the first two months of the year shows that this virus and its variants can be stopped,” he added.
Tedros said that in some countries, despite continuing transmission, restaurants and nightclubs are full, markets are open and crowded with few people taking precautions.
“Some people appear to be taking the approach that if they’re relatively young, it doesn’t matter if they get COVID-19,” he said.
“WHO does not want endless lockdowns. The countries that have done best have taken a tailored, measured, agile and evidence-based combination of measures.
“As a result, many of those countries have gained control over COVID-19, and their people are now able to enjoy sporting events, concerts, restaurants, and seeing their family and friends safely.
“With a concerted effort to apply public health measures alongside vaccine equity, we could bring the pandemic under control in a matter of months.
“Whether we do or not comes down to the decisions & the actions that govts & individuals make every day. The choice is ours-
“The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that global manufacturing capacity is not sufficient to deliver vaccines and other essential health products quickly and equitably to where they are needed most.”
According to the WHO D-G, Africa had a coordinated approach. “Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, African countries came together to agree on a coordinated approach to the pandemic, and now they’re coming together for a coordinated approach to scaling up manufacturing.
“Investing in sustainable and secure domestic manufacturing capacity & national regulatory authorities is critical for providing essential immunisation programmes, & for building strong, resilient health systems against the inevitable health emergencies of the future.
“WHO is also ready to provide immediate technical support to assist countries in assessing the feasibility of local production, and in accessing technology and know-how.”