WHO lays out plan to emerge from emergency phase of pandemic

Baku, March 31, AZERTAC

The World Health Organization on Wednesday released an updated plan for COVID-19, laying out key strategies that, if implemented in 2022, would allow the world to end the emergency phase of the pandemic, according to Reuters.

The plan includes three possible scenarios for how the virus might evolve in the coming year.

"Based on what we know now, the most likely scenario is that the COVID-19 virus continues to evolve, but the severity of disease it causes reduces over time as immunity increases due to vaccination and infection," Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during a briefing.

In this base-case scenario, which serves as the WHO's working model, the virus causes less severe outbreaks with periodic spikes in transmission as immunity wanes. Booster shots might be needed for those most at risk. The virus would likely fall into a seasonal pattern, with peaks in colder months, similar to influenza.

In the WHO's rosier, best-case scenario, future variants would be "significantly less severe", protection from severe disease would be long-lasting, without the need for future boosting or significant changes to current vaccines.

To help end the emergency, WHO called on countries to continue or increase virus surveillance capabilities to allow for early warning signs of significant changes in the virus. It also called for improved detection of long COVID, to track and reduce long-term disability after the pandemic has ended.

Countries also must continue to do diagnostic testing for SARS-CoV-2, which helps identify individual cases and guide community-level decision making. Countries also must track virus evolution within animal populations, according to the WHO.

The WHO continues to promote the goal of vaccinating 70% of the world against COVID, with a focus on those most vulnerable to severe outcomes.

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