Omicron variant reminds that Covid is far from over: WHO
Geneva, Nov 29: Even as the world is entering a third year into the Covid-19 pandemic, the infectious disease that claimed the lives of more than 5 million people so far is far from over, the WHO said on Monday.
At the Special Session of the World Health Assembly, WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that the world remains in the grip of "the most acute health crisis in a century" even though it can be prevented, detected, and treated.
"The emergence of the highly-mutated Omicron variant underlines just how perilous and precarious our situation is.
"We shouldn't need another wake-up call; we should all be wide awake to the threat of this virus.
"But Omicron's very emergence is another reminder that although many of us might think we are done with Covid-19, it is not done with us," Ghebreyesus said.
He further pushed the need for a global treaty on pandemics to help countries prevent and fight future pandemics.
"Our current system disincentivises countries from alerting others to threats that will inevitably land on their shores.
"Indeed, Omicron demonstrates just why the world needs a new accord on pandemics," Ghebreyesus said.
He said that Covid exposed and exacerbated fundamental weaknesses in the global architecture for pandemic preparedness and response.
These include complex and fragmented governance, inadequate financing, and insufficient systems and tools.
The best way to address future pandemics would be "a legally binding agreement between nations; an accord forged from the recognition that we have no future but a common future".
It will enable nations to come together and find common ground to make sustainable progress against common threats.
According to Ghebreyesus, the pandemic cannot end unless the vaccine crisis is solved.
More than 80 per cent of the world's vaccines have gone to G20 countries, and low-income countries, most of them in Africa, have received just 0.6 per cent of all vaccines.
The WHO chief also called on its Member countries to support the targets to vaccinate 40 per cent of the population of every country by the end of this year, and 70 per cent by the middle of next year.
"The longer vaccine inequity persists, the more opportunity this virus has to spread and evolve in ways we cannot predict nor prevent," Ghebreyesus said.