Over 6.5 million lives have been lost so far, but the end of the COVID-19 pandemic is now “in sight,” according to the World Health Organization (WHO). However, they went on to stress that this last leg of the race won’t be easy.
“Last week, the number of weekly reported deaths from COVID-19 was the lowest since March 2020,” Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, said at a press conference on Wednesday.
“We have never been in a better position to end the pandemic,” he added. “We are not there yet, but the end is in sight.”
Tedros added that the WHO believes this is no time to become lax on measures and COVID-19 remains a severe threat to global public health.
“A marathon runner does not stop when the finish line comes into view. She runs harder, with all the energy she has left. So must we,” he continued.
“We can see the finish line. We’re in a winning position. But now is the worst time to stop running.”
To continue to battle against COVID-19, the WHO has revealed six short policy briefs designed to tackle the next phase of the pandemic. This includes continued COVID-19 testing, reaching COVID-19 vaccination targets, and improving the clinical management of the disease. Interestingly, it also focuses on controlling the “infodemic” of misinformation that surrounds COVID-19.
While the pandemic might be in its final stages, this is certainly not the last we’ll see of COVID-19. The pandemic refers to an acute stage of the disease when cases are spreading across a large region.
The future of COVID-19 is not certain, although most experts now believe that it will eventually enter an endemic stage where it will become another seasonal infection, a bit like the flu.
This chapter might be coming to an end, but this is just the beginning of the story.
“We expect that there are going to be future waves of infection, potentially at different time points throughout the world caused by different subvariants of Omicron or even different variants of concern,” said Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO’s technical lead on COVID-19.