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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.

Go deeper

Jan 15, 2022 - Health

Experts warn of more COVID-19 variants after Omicron

Three COVID-19 testing companies place testing locations outside Grand Central Terminal on Jan. 14 in New York City. Photo: Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images

Experts are warning that subsequent COVID-19 variants are likely to come after Omicron, AP reports.

Why it matters: The warnings come as there's no guarantee that subsequent variants "will cause milder illness or that existing vaccines will work against them," underscoring the need for widespread vaccination, AP writes.

Scoop: Stephanie Ruhle to replace Brian Williams on MSNBC

Photo: Nathan Congleton/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images

MSNBC will soon announce plans to move morning anchor Stephanie Ruhle to the 11 pm ET hour that Brian Williams turned into an elite destination, two sources familiar with the move tell Axios.

Details: The 9 am ET hour, currently hosted by Ruhle, will become part of MSNBC's flagship morning show, "Morning Joe," which currently runs from 6 am to 9 am ET.

Oath Keepers leader denied bail on Capitol riot sedition charge

Oath Keepers co-founder Elmer Stewart Rhodes. Photo: Susan Walsh/AP

A federal judge ordered Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes to remain jailed Wednesday until trial on charges stemming from the Capitol riot.

Why it matters: The judge said the most prominent far-right figure charged in the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection had access to weapons and his alleged "continued advocacy for violence against the federal government" gave credence to prosecutors' view that, if released, Rhodes could endanger others.