The World Health Organization (WHO) has stated that COVID-19 will be present for a long time, and nations must learn to manage its ongoing non-emergency effects. WHO Chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus stated that while there has been a 95% reduction in reported COVID-19 deaths since the beginning of this year, some nations are experiencing an increase in cases.
The new XBB.1.16 variant demonstrates that the virus is still evolving and can result in new waves of infection and death. Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO’s technical lead on COVID-19, claimed that the XBB sub-lineages were dominant globally and exhibited an increased growth advantage, as well as showing immune evasion.
Van Kerkhove urged for increased surveillance via testing to understand the virus’ mutations and inform vaccine composition and handling choices.
Tedros added that COVID-19 would be present for a long time, and all countries would need to learn to handle it, including Long COVID, which affects around one in ten infected individuals, necessitating long-term care for millions.
The COVID-19 pandemic has also disrupted vaccination programs, resulting in an estimated 67 million children missing at least one essential vaccine between 2019 and 2021. All countries must address immunization barriers to ensure that vaccination rates do not fall and that outbreaks of measles, diphtheria, polio, and yellow fever do not occur.