GENEVA (EFE).— The director general of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, was shown at the first press conference of 2023 optimistic about the evolution of the covid-19 pandemic and assured that “if it works properly, this will be the year in which the public emergency is officially over”.
Covid-19 was declared an international emergency on January 30, 2020 (even before the disease was named) and every three months a WHO emergency committee meets to review this situation, which for now has been maintained due to to the high number of cases still in all regions of the planet.
“We are now entering the fourth year of the pandemic with a world that is in a much better situation than it was a few years ago, thanks to clinical care and the management of vaccines and treatments,” the Ethiopian expert assessed yesterday.
“During most of 2022 Covid was on the decline, vaccination increased and sustained progress was made in access to vaccines by countries of low and middle income that had been forgotten in 2021 due to ‘vaccine nationalism’, he added.
Medications against Covid-19
Tedros recalled that last week the WHO approved by first time two generic drugs against him Covid (nirmatrelvir and ritonavir)produced by an Indian pharmaceutical company, which will increase the access of less developed countries to treatments.
The head of the WHO insisted that despite the progress “Covid-19 continues to be a dangerous virus for our health, our economies and our societies”, since every week some 10,000 people continue to die in the world due to this disease .
In the same press conference, Tedros warned about the increase in cases of the omicron subvariant XBB.1.5 in Europe and the United Statesinitially detected in the US states of New York and Connecticut and which some experts see as having the potential to cause a new wave of infections.
The subvariants of the Covid-19
“XBB.1.5, a recombination of the BA2 sublineages, is increasing in Europe and the United States, it has already been identified in more than 25 countries and the WHO is closely monitoring it,” he said.
“We will assess the risk of the subvariant and we will act accordingly,” he added.
And he warned that in recent weeks there has been an increase in hospitalizations and hospital pressure in the Northern Hemisphere, not only for Covid but for other respiratory diseasesincluding the flu.
The increase in cases, however, is significantly lower for now than that registered a year ago, at the beginning of the advance of the omicron subvariant, when they were registered almost 25 million weekly positives globallyseven times more than the current levels (although fewer “tests” are now carried out due to the predominance of mild cases).
US experts have warned in their research that XBB.1.5 could be more contagious than all previous known subvariants and more difficult to neutralize by antibodies.