When some people think COVID-19 is almost over, the pandemic-related deaths shot up by 35 percent in the past four weeks across the globe, a development described as “unacceptable” by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Briefing the media Wednesday, WHO director-general, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said last week, 15,000 people around the world lost their lives to COVID-19.
“15,000 deaths a week is completely unacceptable, when we have all the tools to prevent infections and save lives,” decried the WHO chief.
“We’re all tired of this virus and tired of the pandemic. But the virus is not tired of us.
Omicron remains the dominant variant, with the BA.5 sub-variant representing more than 90% of sequences shared in the last month.”
Ghebreyesus however said the number of sequences shared per week has fallen by 90% since the beginning of this year, and the number of countries sharing sequences has dropped by 75%, making it so much harder to understand how the virus might be changing.
“With colder weather approaching in the northern hemisphere and people spending more time indoors, the risks for more intense transmission and hospitalization will only increase in the coming months – not only for COVID-19, but for other diseases including influenza,” said Ghebreyesus
“But none of us is helpless – please get vaccinated if you are not, and if you need a booster, get one. Wear a mask when you can’t distance, and try to avoid crowds, especially indoors. There is a lot of talk about learning to live with this virus. But we cannot live with 15,000 deaths a week.”
He said countries cannot live with mounting hospitalizations and deaths.
“We cannot live with inequitable access to vaccines and other tools,” he said.
“Learning to live with COVID-19 does not mean we pretend it’s not there. It means we use the tools we have to protect ourselves, and protect others.”