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WHO Chief says COVID-19 pandemic is ‘most certainly not over’

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The COVID-19 pandemic is “most certainly not over,” WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Sunday.

Tedros said that in spite of the decline in general COVID-19 numbers, that the virus is still a problem. He told governments that “we lower our guard at our peril.”

Tedros cautioned officials gathered in Geneva that “declining testing and sequencing means we are blinding ourselves to the evolution of the virus.” He further noted that nearly 1 billion people in lower-income nations still haven’t been vaccinated.

In a weekly report Thursday on the global situation, WHO stated the number of new COVID-19 cases seems to have stabilized after weeks of decline since late March, while the overall number of weekly fatalities dropped.

While there has been progress, with 60% of the world’s population vaccinated, “it’s not over anywhere until it’s over everywhere,” Tedros said. “Reported cases are increasing in almost 70 countries in all regions, and this in a world in which testing rates have plummeted.”

Tedros specifically noted that COVID-19 deaths in Africa, where vaccination numbers are low, has seen a significant increase in recent weeks. While the world’s vaccine supply has improved, there is “insufficient political commitment to roll out vaccines” in some countries, gaps in “operational or financial capacity” in others, he said.

“In all, we see vaccine hesitancy driven by misinformation and disinformation,” Tedros said. “The pandemic will not magically disappear, but we can end it.”

Tedros is expected to be named for a second five-year term this week at the World Health Assembly, the annual gathering of the WHO’s member nations.

COVID cases have increased by 52% over the last two weeks in the U.S. Hospitalizations have further climbed by 31% during that same time period, according to data released by the New York Times.

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