The World Health Organisation has expressed concern for health services around the world as the Omicron variant of the coronavirus continues its rapid spread. Experts continue to caution that rising inequalities - which the pandemic has only worsened - will continue to spur on new variants and prolong the international health crisis.
World Health Organisation Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has noted that 18 million new COVID-19 cases were reported last week.
Dr Tedros is concerned for countries with low inoculation rates, and calls for greater vaccine distribution worldwide.
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- Omicron variant of COVID-19 is much more contagious than previous strains but seems to cause less serious disease.
- Dr. Michael Ryan, is advising that the worst of the pandemic can only end if gross inequities in vaccinations are quickly addressed and pandemic stage is not over yet.
- If leaders allow COVID to continue to spread unabated in low-income countries, it will only dramatically increase the chance of new, more dangerous variants emerging.
" Omicron may be less severe, on average of course, but the narrative that it is (a) mild disease is misleading; (it) hurts the overall response and costs more lives. The number of deaths remains stable for the moment, but we are concerned about the impact Omicron is having on already exhausted health workers and overburdened health systems. In some countries, cases seem to have peaked, which gives hope that the worst of this latest wave is done with. But no country is out of the woods (safe) yet. I remain particularly concerned about many countries that have low vaccination rates, as people are many times more at risk of severe illness and death if they're unvaccinated."