Jan 12, 2022 - Health

WHO chief: “We must not allow this virus a free ride"

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP via Getty Images

World Health Organization director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus urged countries against becoming complacent in the fight against COVID-19 at a press briefing Wednesday, as cases soar worldwide.

Why it matters: As many countries are beginning to emphasize learning to live with the virus, Tedros cautioned the dangers of this approach given how much of the world remains unvaccinated.

The big picture: Although data suggest the Omicron variant carries a lower risk of death compared to Delta, its highly contagious nature has led to record-breaking global case numbers every day in the new year, per the New York Times.

  • "While Omicron causes less severe disease than Delta, it remains a dangerous virus, particularly for those who are unvaccinated,” Tedros said, adding that more than 85% of people in Africa have not yet received their first dose of the vaccine.

What they're saying: "Last week, more than 50 million new cases of COVID-19 were reported to the WHO from around the world, by far the most cases reported in a single week," Tedros said.

  • “Almost 50,000 deaths a week is 50,000 deaths too many. Learning to live with this virus does not mean we can, or should, accept this number of deaths.”

The bottom line: “We must not allow this virus a free ride, or wave the white flag, especially when so many people around the world remain unvaccinated,” Tedros said.

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