The World Health Organization's emergency committee on Covid-19 was meeting Friday to discuss whether the pandemic still merits the highest level of global alert.
WHO chief said that as entering the fourth year of the pandemic, people are certainly in a much better position now than they were a year ago, when the Omicron wave was at its peak, and more than 70,000 deaths were being reported to WHO each week. Tedros said the weekly death rate had dropped below 10,000 last October but had been rising again since the start of December.
He said vaccines, tests and treatments had been critical in saving lives, preventing severe disease and easing the pressure on health systems and medics. But he stressed that the global response remains hobbled because in too many countries, these powerful, life-saving tools are still not getting to the populations that need them most - especially older people and health workers. He added that public trust in these Covid tools is being undermined by a continuous torrent of mis- and disinformation while health systems are still struggling to cope with the additional Covid burden.
Globally, nearly 665 million confirmed cases of Covid-19 have been reported to the WHO, including more than 6.7 million deaths, though the United Nations' health agency repeatedly stresses that the true numbers will be much higher.