The global COVID-19 pandemic may be nearing its end, World Health Organization officials have said.
In a news briefing in Geneva on Wednesday, the WHO director-general said the world has never been in a better position to end the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Last week, the number of weekly reported deaths from COVID-19 was the lowest since March 2020,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus of the World Health Organization said. “We have never been in a better position to end the pandemic. We’re not there yet, but the end is in sight.”
This assessment is the most positive outlook the UN agency has had since it declared an international emergency in January 2020, followed by naming COVID a pandemic in March of that year. The virus has infected more than 600 million people and claimed more than 6.5 million lives.
“A marathon runner does not stop when the finish line comes into view; she runs harder with all the energy she has left,” Ghebreyesus said. “So must we. We can see the finish line, we are in a winning position, but now is the worst time to stop running. Now is the time to run harder and make sure we cross the line and reap the rewards of all our hard work.”
There is still a risk of more variants, deaths, disruption and uncertainty, he said, “so let’s seize this opportunity.”
The WHO reported around 11,000 deaths worldwide in the week of Sept. 5-11, a 22% decrease from the week prior. Weekly cases also fell 28%, from 4.2 million to 3.1 million from week to week, according to the WHO.
However, COVID deaths in the US have not dropped over the past two weeks, NBC reported. The weekly average of COVID-related deaths is currently 478, which is nearly double the lowest recorded rate. New cases in the US have declined by 14%, the outlet said.
The WHO outlined six key actions for countries to take in order to reduce the threat of COVID. Their recommendations include continued testing, treatment and vaccinations, infection control in health care facilities, steps to combat misinformation and clear public communication.
Each of the six suggestions came from research over the past 32 months and offer tools to save lives, protect health systems and avoid more disruption from the virus. It’s “an urgent call for governments to take a hard look at their policies and strengthen them for COVID-19 and future pathogens with pandemic potential,” Ghebreyesus said.
As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from the CDC, WHO and local public health departments.