WHO: COVID-19 is Still a Threat but Not a Priority

Society » HEALTH | November 22, 2023, Wednesday // 13:25
Bulgaria: WHO: COVID-19 is Still a Threat but Not a Priority

COVID-19 remains a threat, the World Health Organization (WHO) has warned, four years after the outbreak of the disease, which claimed millions of lives and devastated the global economy, reported AFP. However, it is no longer defined as a priority.

"This virus, SARS-CoV-2, is currently circulating in all countries and still poses a threat," warned Maria Van Kerkhove, a WHO scientist in charge of fighting the pandemic. "We have to remain vigilant because the virus circulates, evolves and changes," she added during a call to the public on social media on Tuesday.

Maria van Kerkhove is one of the faces of the WHO in the fight against the disease. She is now Acting Director of Epidemic and Pandemic Preparedness and Prevention.

There are currently three variants of the COVID-19 virus (XBB.1.5, XXB.1.16 and EG.5) that are of "interest", i.e. are subject to increased surveillance. The fourth (BA.2.86) should be added to this cohort, although it did not show an increased disease burden.

"We are observing a slow and steady increase in its detection worldwide," explained Dr. Van Kerkhove, quoted by BTA.

Faced with the COVID-19 pandemic, the WHO declared a public health emergency of international concern on January 30, 2020, the highest level of alert, which was finally lifted on May 5, 2023.

In addition to the acute and immediate symptoms, the WHO is concerned about the long-term effects caused by the virus, known as Long COVID.

"We have evidence that vaccination against COVID-19 reduces the risk" of long-term COVID, Maria van Kerkhove said. She pointed out that since the first injections at the end of 2020, 13.5 billion vaccines against the virus have been administered worldwide. Kerkhove encouraged people in the northern hemisphere, where winter is soon to begin, to get vaccinated against coronavirus and flu.

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Tags: COVID-19, WHO, priority, threat

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