The acute phase of the pandemic can end in 2022

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According to WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, vaccination gaps in poorer countries should be closed. © Salvatore Di Nolfi/KEYSTONE/dpa

Is the end of the corona pandemic in sight? At least the acute phase could be over this year. According to the WHO, however, there is still a lot to be done.

Geneva – From the point of view of the head of the World Health Organization (WHO), the acute phase of the corona pandemic can be ended with an international effort this year.

Among other things, the vaccination gaps in poorer countries would have to be closed and more testing would have to be carried out, said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus at a meeting of the WHO Executive Board in Geneva.

Omicron as a beacon of hope

Omicron “creates credible hope for stabilization and normalization,” said WHO regional chief for Europe Hans Kluge. This variant of the coronavirus leads to a much weaker course of the disease than the previously dominant delta variant. Nevertheless, Kluge and Tedros warned against premature optimism. “It would be dangerous to assume that Omicron was the last variant and that we are already in the final phase,” said the WHO chief. “The conditions are ideal for the emergence of further variants.”

Because of the rapid spread of omicron, 100 new cases from around the world were reported to the WHO every three seconds last week, and a death was added every 12 seconds, Tedros reported.

No more vaccine shortages

However, the head of the UN health organization also had good news for the steering committee of health ministers and high-ranking officials from 34 countries: the vaccine shortage had been overcome. The logistical challenge now is to bring the doses to all countries and administer them there.

According to Tedros, 85 percent of people in Africa have not yet received a vaccination. Only if 70 percent of the population in every country is vaccinated in the coming months can the virus be defeated, Tedros said. In addition, treatment options would have to be improved in order to reduce mortality. “We can end Covid-19 as a global emergency, and we can do it this year,” Tedros said.

After a meeting with Tedros in Geneva, Germany’s Development Minister Svenja Schulze (SPD) emphasized that the federal government supports the development of vaccine production, especially in Africa, in cooperation with pharmaceutical companies. In her view, however, the frequently demanded temporary suspension of vaccine patents would be counterproductive because this could prevent companies from developing new products. dpa

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