STORY: The world is now in the best position yet to finally end the COVID-19 pandemic.
That's according to the head of the World Health Organization on Wednesday.
“We have never been in a better position to end the pandemic. We’re not there yet, but the end is in sight.”
His comments marked the agency's most upbeat view yet since it first declared an international emergency more than 2 and a half years ago.
Last week's COVID deaths were the lowest since March of 2020.
The virus has killed nearly 6.5 million people and infected more than 600 million after emerging in China in late 2019.
It's roiled economies and overwhelmed health care systems.
Vaccines and therapies have helped stem deaths and hospitalizations... and the Omicron variant and its sub-variants have caused less severe disease.
Still, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus urged vigilance, saying countries need to strengthen policies, vaccinate high-risk groups and keep testing, comparing the effort to a running a marathon.
"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.”
With one million COVID deaths this year alone, the pandemic remains a global emergency.
The WHO will convene experts in October to decide if the pandemic should remain at its highest level of alert.