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WHO: COVID Pandemic 'End Is In Sight'

    WHO: COVID Pandemic 'End Is In Sight'
    Last updated: 2 months ago
    Image credit: aljazeera

    Facts

    • WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Wednesday said of the COVID pandemic, "We are not there yet, but the end is in sight." Global deaths during the week of Sept. 5-11 were the lowest since March 2020 and new weekly cases fell 28% in that time. [1]
    • In a press briefing urging efforts to make gains against the virus, Ghebreyesus stated, "A marathon runner does not stop when the finish line comes into view, she runs harder." [2]
    • The WHO also outlined six key actions for governments, including guidance for testing, vaccination, managing the disease, maintaining infection control measures in health facilities, limiting the spread of misinformation, and community engagement. [2]
    • The WHO warned that future waves of the virus and possible new variants mean that countries must maintain a high supply of necessary medical equipment and healthcare workers. Ghebreyesus stressed the importance of vaccinating high-risk populations and testing. [3]
    • US COVID deaths have remained flat over the past two weeks, averaging 478 fatalities per day, but new reported cases have decreased by 14%, leading the White House to say the US has seen “an important shift in our fight against the virus.” [1]
    • Since emerging in 2019, the virus has infected at least 606M people worldwide and is believed to have killed roughly 6.5M, with vaccines and therapies having contributed to stemming the severity of the disease. [4]
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    Spin

    Narrative A

    The WHO's optimism that the pandemic may be ending is warranted, but vaccination is a huge tool in continuing to bring these COVID numbers down. About two-thirds of the world, and the US, have been vaccinated, but those numbers could be better, especially in lower-income countries. Without optimizing the vaccine tools we have, hospitalizations and deaths will hold steady.

    Narrative B

    It's okay to take Tedros' words with a grain of salt. COVID numbers are decreasing, but there needs to be a cost-benefit calculation about pressing hard with stringent public health measures and the adverse effects on society and the economy. At this point, most scientists agree that the virus is unlikely to ever be eradicated, and learning to live with and manage the disease is a viable strategy.

    Narrative C

    A responsible conversation about the potential wind-down of the pandemic means talking about those left disabled with "Long COVID." The WHO estimates that 17M people in Europe and Central Asia may have this condition. Worldwide, this figure may be 150M people or higher. The potential impacts on physical health, mental health, society, and the economy are enormous - this issue must be given the attention it deserves.

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