‘Monumental error’ to treat pandemic as over at this stage, WHO leader warns

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We are not out of the COVID woods yet, despite declining coronavirus infection levels and increasing vaccine rates, a world health leader warned Monday.

The mood may be lightening up in the U.S. and elsewhere as people get their shots, and infections and deaths decline, but COVID-19 is still a very real and present danger, World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said as the 74th World Health Assembly wrapped up.

He called on the world’s nations to work together to end this pandemic and prepare for the next one, proposing a treaty on pandemic preparedness and response.

“The reality is, we still have a lot of work to do to end this pandemic,” Tedros said in his closing remarks. “We’re very encouraged that cases and deaths are continuing to decline globally, but it would be a monumental error for any country to think the danger has passed.”

The way to continue to keep the virus at bay is to consistently and continuously deploy public health measures, and to ensure equitable vaccine distribution and administration. He urged member states to aim to vaccinate at least 10% of the population of all countries by the end of September, and at least 30% by the end of the year.

Even beyond the physical danger are the psychological effects, Tedros added.

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