However, she said, these future waves do not need to translate into “waves or death” because there are now effective tools such as vaccines and antivirals specifically for COVID-19.
Finish line in sight
The briefs also contain communications advice, including training health workers to identify and address misinformation, as well as creating high-quality informative materials.
“We expect that there are going to be future waves of infection, potentially at different time points throughout the world caused by different subvariants of Omicron or even different variants of concern”, she said, reiterating her previous warning that the more the virus circulates, the more opportunities it has to mutate.
“We have never been in a better position to end the pandemic”, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told journalists during his regular weekly press conference.
“We can end this pandemic together, but only if all countries, manufacturers, communities and individuals step up and seize this opportunity”, he said.
They also urge authorities to have plans for future surges, including the securing of supplies, equipment, and extra health workers.
Committed to the future
The UN health agency’s Director-General explained however, that the world is “not there yet”.
“So, let’s seize this opportunity”, he urged, announcing that WHO is releasing six short policy briefs that outline the key actions that all governments must take now to “finish the race”.
Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO’s technical lead on COVID-19, highlighted that the virus is still “ intensely circulating” around the world and that the agency believes that case numbers being reported are an underestimate.
The documents, which are available online, include recommendations regarding vaccination of most at-risk groups, continued testing and sequencing of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, and integrating effective treatment for COVID-19 into primary healthcare systems.
“[They] are an urgent call for governments to take a hard look at their policies and strengthen them for COVID-19 and future pathogens with pandemic potential”, Tedros explained.