Friday, May 24, 2024

‘No silver bullet’ to combat COVID-19, says WHO head

Photo: ILO/KB Mpofu

There is “no silver bullet” to combat COVID-19, the head of the UN health agency told journalists on Monday, adding, “and there might never be”.

The World Health Organization’s (WHO) Emergency Committee on COVID-19 met Friday to review the current coronavirus pandemic at what chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, called “a sobering moment”.

At a regular press briefing on Monday in Geneva, he recalled that when the Committee met three months ago, WHO had received reports of three million COVID-19 cases and more than 200,000 deaths.

“Since then”, he updated, “the number of cases has increased more than five-fold to 17.5 million, and the number of deaths has more than tripled, to 680,000”.

In addition to the direct toll of the virus, the Committee noted the impact disrupted services is having on a range of other diseases, which are compounding reduced immunization coverage, cancer screening and care, and mental health services.

And on top of the health impact, COVID-19 is causing social, economic and political damage, according to the WHO official.

The Committee suggested a range of proposals for countries to bring the virus under control, including enhanced political commitment and leadership for national strategies and localized response activities driven by science, data, and experience.

They also acknowledged that Member States have “tough choices” to make to turn the epidemic around.

While recognizing that “it’s not easy”, the WHO chief maintained that “when leaders step up and work intensely with their populations”, the disease can be “brought under control”.

“It’s never too late to turn this pandemic around”, Mr. Tedros upheld, adding that “if we act together today”, we can save lives and livelihoods.

More than 18 million people around the world have been diagnosed with the new coronavirus as of Monday. Almost 11 million have recovered and more than 690,000 have died.

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