The World Health Organization (WHO), has said the Omicron variant of the Covid-19 virus is killing people worldwide and should not be dismissed as mild.
World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the record number of people caught the new variant — which has outcompeted the Delta variant in many countries — had left hospitals overwhelmed.
“Omicron appears to be less severe than Delta, especially in those who are vaccinated, but this does not mean it should be classified as mild,” Tedros said at a press conference.
“Omicron is hospitalizing people and killing people just like previous variants,” he explained.
There is a tsunami of cases happening so quickly around the world that it is overwhelming health systems.”
A record number of new Covid-19 cases were reported to the WHO last week — up 71% from the week before.
Tedros said such a figure was a gross underestimation since it did not reflect the backlog of testing around the holidays, positive self-tests not registered, and overburdened surveillance systems that missed cases.
Hoarding of Vaccines due to Omicron
“While Omicron does appear to be less severe compared to Delta, especially in those vaccinated, it does not mean it should be categorized as ‘mild’.
Just like previous [#COVID19] variants; Omicron is hospitalizing people and it is killing people.” says @DrTedros. pic.twitter.com/7QZxMSvZ6q
— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) January 6, 2022
Tedros attacked rich nations for hoarding vaccine doses last year, saying it had created a fertile breeding ground for the emergence of novel virus strains. To end the “death and destruction” of Covid-19, he, therefore, urged that vaccine doses be shared out more fairly in 2022.
Tedros hoped every country would have vaccinated at least 10% of their population by September 2021 and 40% by December 2021.
Ninety-two of the 194 WHO member states did not reach the target set for the end of 2021 – in fact, 36 did not even inject the first 10%, largely because they couldn’t access doses.
Tedros wants 70% of the people vaccinated in every country by mid-2022. He said 109 countries will miss the vaccine roll-out target if the current pace continues. A global economic recovery is undermined by vaccine inequity, according to Tedros.
Billions remain unvaccinated
While billions remain completely unprotected, booster after booster in a few countries will not stop the spread of a pandemic.”
According to Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO’s Covid-19 technical lead, Omicron is unlikely to be the last variant to cause concern before the pandemic is over.
Van Kerkhove urged people to take more measures to prevent being infected with the more transmissible Omicron variant.
She said, “Do everything that we have been advising better, more comprehensively, more purposefully.” “We need people to hang in there and fight hard.” The sloppiness with which some people wore facemasks stunned van Kerkhove.
She said a mask needs to cover your nose and mouth. “Wearing a facemask below your chin is useless.”
Bruce Aylward, WHO’s coordinator of access to coronavirus tools, added that there was “no need to finish 2022 in the midst of a pandemic”.
WHO emergencies director Michael Ryan warned that without vaccine equity, “we’ll be having a similar conversation at the end of 2022, which would be tragic in and of itself.”
Source: AFP, WHO