WHO chief explains 3 scenarios of how pandemic can evolve this yeartext_fields
World Health Organisation on Wednesday notified that the severity of the COVID will reduce over time but, warned that we need to remain cautious and protected in case a more virulent and highly transmissible COVID19 virus variant emerges.
During a briefing, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus also laid out three possible scenarios for how the pandemic will evolve this year.
He said the most likely way forward was that the severity of disease caused by the virus would wane over time, due to greater public immunity.
"Based on what we know now, the most likely scenario is that the virus continues to evolve, but the severity of disease it causes reduces over time as immunity increases due to vaccination and infection," Tedros told a press conference.
He said periodic spikes in cases and deaths might occur as immunity wanes, which may require occasional booster vaccinations for vulnerable people.
"In the best-case scenario, we may see less severe variants emerge, and boosters or new formulations of vaccines won't be necessary," he said.
"In the worst-case scenario, a more virulent and highly transmissible variant emerges. Against this new threat, people's protection against severe disease and death, either from prior vaccination or infection, will wane rapidly."
Tedros said that scenario would require significantly altering the currently-available vaccines, and then making sure they get delivered to the people most vulnerable to severe disease.
The WHO released its updated Covid-19 Strategic Preparedness, Readiness and Response Plan, with the organisation's chief hoping it will be the last.
This comes at a time when the entire world is witnessing a massive COVID surge fueled by the Omicron BA.2 subvariant.
Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO's technical lead on Covid-19, said the virus still has "a lot of energy left", going into the third year of the pandemic.
Last week, more than 10 million new cases and 45,000 deaths were reported to the WHO, which said the number of new infections would be far higher as testing rates have dropped.
At the end of last week, more than 479 million confirmed cases had been registered throughout the pandemic, and more than six million deaths, although WHO acknowledges that the true toll could be several times higher.