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We have a chance to end Covid emergency in 2022, WHO official says


Mike Ryan is the Executive Director of WHO Emergencies Program. He spoke at a Geneva news conference on February 6, 2020.

Denis Balibouse | Reuters

A senior WHO official stated that while Covid-19 cannot be eliminated, society can end this public health crisis in 2022.

Michael Ryan, the executive director for the WHO Health Emergencies Programme spoke at Tuesday’s World Economic Forum’s Virtual Davos Agenda.

“We won’t end the virus this year, we won’t ever end the virus — what we can end is the public health emergency,” he told a panel via videoconference.

It’s not the virus that causes the deaths, but the hospitalizations. The virus is an agent.

He expressed optimism, however that this year could be a turning point for the pandemic.

He said that there was a possibility to eliminate the public health crisis this year, but he stressed that this would only happen if we address long-standing injustices in society in areas such as equal access to vaccinations and quality health care.

“It will not end if you don’t.” [address these issues]He said, “This tragedy will continue.”

Ryan maintained that Covid would continue to be a risk to the public even after it has become an endemic, rather than a pandemic.

“Endemic malaria, endemic HIV kill hundreds of thousands of people every year — endemic does not mean ‘good,’ it just means ‘here forever,'” he said. What we must do is reduce disease incidence and maximize vaccination so that no one dies. I believe that this is what will end the crisis and the pandemic.

Vaccine inequity

Panel discussion: Vaccine inequity was portrayed as a barrier for progress against Covid.

The WHO criticized governments in wealthy countries last year for distributing third doses Covid vaccines to all their adult population, while people living in poverty waited for the first.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (WHO Director-General) warned that blanket programs could lead to a prolongation of the pandemic. In December, he stated in a press conference, “No country can lift its way out from the pandemic.”

He stated that “Blanket-booster programs will likely prolong the pandemic rather than end it by diverting supply towards countries with high levels of vaccine coverage, giving the virus greater opportunity to spread” to reporters. “Boosters cannot be used as a way to continue with plans for celebrations without other precautions.

Official guidance from the WHO on booster vaccinations stated concern about the possibility of mass vaccine booster programs being implemented in wealthy countries, leaving out those who cannot afford them.

Numerous high- and upper middle schools While countries with higher incomes have established booster programs, poorer nations remain behind in immunizing their population with the first two-dose course. For example, in the U.K. 63% of all people over 12 have received booster shots, and 83% are completely vaccinated. Only 0.1% of Kenya’s population received a third shot and only 8.5% are completely vaccinated.

High-income Israel has gone one better. offering a fourth dose to health care workers and society’s most vulnerable individuals. But, Israeli doctors are able to cast doubt on fourth dosesProvide sufficient immunity to the transmissible variant of the omicron.

Ryan pointed out that Ryan did not say on Tuesday that ending the inequity in vaccines meant that people from high-income countries could no longer receive additional doses.

“We must focus on the most probable to succeed.” [cope]He said that the worst thing about getting infected is being reinfected.

A third dose is required for those living in higher income countries. No matter where you are from, anyone should have the ability to receive that first course. With the advancement of knowledge, it is possible that the primary course for someone vulnerable will include three to four doses in order to gain long-lasting, strong immunity.

Ryan stated that Ryan believes prioritizing Africa’s vulnerable population for Covid vaccinations was a good idea, as well as prioritizing high-income countries with vulnerable populations.

The panel was told by he that vulnerable people living in industrialized countries have an equity problem too. Their chance of dying high.

The global consensus is still not clear on whether fourth doses are necessary. Although the U.K. vaccination authority stated that there was “no immediate necessity” for a second booster in its current situation, it is still being reviewed. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people with severe immunocompromised conditions should receive an extra dose of their first series of vaccinations as well as a booster shot.  

The December issue of the CEO of Pfizer told CNBC that fourth doses may be needed sooner than expected because of the highly transmissible omicron variant.

—Don’t miss Geoff Cutmore’s discussion with ECB President Christine Lagarde, Brazilian Economy Minister Paulo Guedes, IMF MD Kristalina Georgieva and India’s Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati at 7.30 a.m. ET Friday. The “Global Economic Outlook” will be discussed at Davos Agenda. You can live-stream the discussion here.