The head of the World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday said the end of the COVID-19 pandemic “is in sight” and the world has “never been in a better position” to reach this long-awaited goal.
During his routine media briefing on Wednesday, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus stated the number of weekly COVID-19 deaths from around the world has reached its lowest point since March 2020, when his organization declared the coronavirus outbreak to be a global pandemic.
“We have never been in a better position to end the pandemic. We are not there yet, but the end is in sight,” said Tedros, comparing the coronavirus response to a marathon and urging people to not let up in their efforts.
“We can see the finish line. We’re 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,” he said.
“If we don’t take this opportunity now, we run the risk of more variants, more deaths, more disruption and more uncertainty,” he said.
The most up-to-date information from the WHO shows that 2,800 weekly global COVID-19 deaths were reported on Sept. 12, a drastic drop from the 11,300 recorded the week before. This data is likely incomplete and is subject to change.
Still, death rates have recently reached levels reminiscent of the early days of the pandemic. Weekly reported deaths previously dropped to just under 9,000 in May of this year.
Reported coronavirus cases have similarly dropped after a small surge over the summer caused by the BA.4 and BA.5 omicron subvariants.
In order to “finish the race,” Tedros announced on Wednesday that the WHO is releasing six policy briefs outlining actions that governments must take. These briefs include recommendations to invest in complete immunization of the most at-risk groups, continued viral surveillance and preparation for more potential surges.
“We can end this pandemic together, but only if all countries, manufacturers, communities and individuals step up and seize this opportunity,” said Tedros.