The coronavirus pandemic is far from over, warned World Health Organization (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Monday as he closed the group’s annual meeting, moved online this year due to the disease.
“The reality is, we still have a lot of work to do to end this pandemic,” he said. “We’re very encouraged that cases and deaths are continuing to decline globally, but it would be a monumental error for any country to think the danger has passed.”
He stressed the importance of precautions that have gone into common usage since the pandemic started: social-distancing, hand-washing, wearing facial masks and ensuring a fair distribution of vaccines.
The WHO has criticized the fact that rich countries have purchased vast quantities of hard-to-get vaccines, with young and healthy people already being inoculated there, while poorer countries don’t have enough shots even for health care workers and those especially at risk.
“One day – hopefully soon – the pandemic will be behind us,” said Tedros. “But the psychological scars will remain for those who have lost loved ones, health workers who have been stretched beyond breaking point, and the millions of people of all ages confronted with months of loneliness and isolation.”
Attendees at the session also agreed to meet in November to begin work on a pandemic treaty, which aims to make sure the world is better prepared the next time a pandemic spreads. One focus would be ensuring better cooperation in the next health crisis.