According to the head of the World Health Organization, COVID-19 is officially on the run and, in fact, nearly gone.
For most of us we’ve known this for some time. What else would have allowed our schools and businesses to reopen and life go back to some semblance of normal, albeit masks required?
But at least the WHO is finally on the same page as the rest of us.
WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a virtual press conference on Wednesday that while the virus is still active and found in many parts of the world, it is waning. “But the end is in sight,” he says.
Indeed, things on the COVID front seem as good as they have ever been.
Since March of 2020, when the nations of the world began to really keep track of the virus, it is estimated that some 606 million people have been infected. Of those, nearly 6.5 million have died.
Naturally, this caused some hysteria among a great many individuals.
Governments suddenly shut down, businesses were closed, and schools shuttered. Mandates for social distancing, masking, and vaccinations were instituted. And everywhere it seemed COVID and its spread was the only thing that mattered.
Now, as you know, most of that was quite unnecessary. Masks have proved to be of little or no worth. Vaccinations are faulty, neither working to protect against the disease or severe symptoms. And social distancing – well, it’s set our economies back years, and it will take several more years to recuperate what we have lost.
According to data from the WHO, deaths and infections from COVID are as low as they were in March of 2020, shortly after the virus had been detected and declared a pandemic. Of course, the WHO is convinced that this has only been made possible by the rollout of vaccines worldwide, as well as several other therapies.
But as, Tedros urged, just because numbers and the disease’s apparent severity are dwindling doesn’t mean we can get lazy or lulled into believing that COVID is over. On the contrary, as he says, countries worldwide still need to be vigilant in maintaining strong policies for combating the virus and keeping it at bay, as well as for future viruses that may arise.
More specifically, Tedros encourages all countries to ensure that their high-risk groups are 100 percent vaccinated and that they continually test for the virus.
He and other WHO officials warn that even if we stay on top of the disease and its spread, there will be times in our future when it will seem to make a comeback.
Of course, it will. It’s a virus; that’s what they do. They spread, they transform, and they spread some more. You know, like the flu does.
As WHO’s senior epidemiologist Maria Van Kerkhove says, “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.”
And that means the nations of the world need to keep suitable supplies of both medical equipment and healthcare workers on hand.
The UN agency noted that the same waning process also seems to be happening with the more recent monkeypox epidemic. Case numbers are on a downward trend after rising sharply for a number of weeks.
Again, as with COVID, Tedros and other officials believe this has everything to do with constant testing and vaccinations. In time, he says that the disease could be eliminated entirely, or at least for the most part.
As Tedros reiterated, “As with COVID-19, this is not the time to relax or let down our guard.”
It noted that while monkeypox is no doubt annoying to endure and even painful, most recover rather quickly. In fact, there has only been one recorded death due to the disease. Furthermore, of those who have contracted it, over 95 percent are adult males who have had sexual relations with another adult male.
Naturally, that doesn’t make the disease or its damages any less noteworthy. However, it does mean that there isn’t a severe need at this point to make such a big deal of it as far too many did with COVID.
In either case, the WHO is officially declaring the worst of it over, it seems. Maybe normal is in reach after all.