The end of the pandemic is in sight and the world has never been in a better position to stop COVID-19, the chief of the World Health Organization said Wednesday. Reuters describes Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus' remarks as his most optimistic since March 2020, when the UN health agency first declared the crisis was a pandemic. Tedros said the number of worldwide COVID deaths last week, just over 11,000, was the lowest since March 2020.
Tedros urged countries to stay vigilant, comparing the fight against the virus to a marathon, the AP reports. "A marathon runner does not stop when the finish line comes into view," Tedros said. "She runs harder, with all the energy she has left. So must we. We can see the finish line." The WHO said deaths fell 22% over the last week and new cases were down 28%, at 3.1 million. NBC reports that in the US, COVID deaths are currently at an average 478 a day, well above the average 258 daily deaths recorded in June this year.
The agency said countries should step up vaccination programs and other efforts against the virus ahead of an expected winter surge. "We expect there to be future waves of infections, potentially at different time points throughout the world caused by different subvariants of omicron or even different variants of concern," said WHO's senior epidemiologist, Maria Van Kerkhove. The WHO says experts will meet next month to determine whether COVID is still a "public health emergency of international concern," reports Reuters. (More COVID-19 stories.)