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WHO says 'not there yet' on coronavirus

WHO says 'not there yet' on coronavirus

Baku, December 3, AZERTAC

The World Health Organization (WHO) on Friday estimated that as much as 90% of the world's population now has some resistance to COVID-19, while at the same time warning that diminishing vigilance could leave the door open for new variants to evolve, according to DW.

"WHO estimates that at least 90% of the world's population now has some level of immunity to SARS-CoV-2, due to prior infection or vaccination," said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in Geneva. SARS-CoV-2 is the virus that causes COVID-19.

"We are much closer to being able to say that the emergency phase of the pandemic is over — but we're not there yet. Gaps in surveillance, testing, sequencing and vaccination are continuing to create the perfect conditions for a new variant of concern to emerge that could cause significant mortality."

Tedros noted that last weekend marked one year since the WHO named omicron a so-called variant of concern. It has since swept the world and Tedros warned that at least 500 other highly transmissible omicron variants are currently in circulation.

He said despite some infections being less severe, new variants have shown they can evade built-up immunity.

With infections on the rise again in the UK and at record highs in China, the WHO is urging governments around the world to increase efforts to protect the most vulnerable, such as those over 60 or with underlying health conditions.

Last week, more than 8,500 people died as a result of COVID-19, which Tedros said, "is not acceptable three years into the pandemic, when we have so many tools to prevent infections and save lives."

The WHO says it has officially registered 6.6 million deaths from nearly 640 million cases since the coronavirus pandemic began in 2019. It notes, however, that this is a massive undercount that does not reflect the actual number of dead.

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