The World Health Organization (WHO) has insisted that world leaders, including health experts and stakeholders must not dismiss the potency of Omicron variant of coronavirus, warning that the virus was killing people across the globe as against report that it was mild.
The global health body maintained that the record numbers of people catching the new variant — which is rapid out-competing the previously-dominant Delta variant in many countries — meant hospitals were being overwhelmed.
The WHO chief, Tedros Ghebreyesus, said that the the figures of omicron infections being recorded, there was need for world leaders and health experts to devise effective emergency response to break chain of its transmission and prevent further causalities to the virus.
“While Omicron does appear to be less severe compared to Delta, especially in those vaccinated, it does not mean it should be categorised as mild,” Tedros told a press conference.
“Just like previous variants, Omicron is hospitalising people and it is killing people. In fact, the tsunami of cases is so huge and quick, that it is overwhelming health systems around the world,” the WHO boss said.
Just under 9.5 million new Covid-19 cases were reported to the WHO last week — a record, up 71 percent on the week before.
But even this was an underestimate, Tedros said, as it did not reflect the backlog of testing around the Christmas-New Year holidays, positive self-tests not registered, and overburdened surveillance systems missing cases.
Meanwhile, Tedros also used his first speech of 2022 to slam the way rich nations hogged available vaccine doses last year, saying it had created the perfect breeding ground for the emergence of virus variants.
He, therefore, urged the world to share out vaccine doses more fairly in 2022, to end the “death and destruction” of Covid-19. Tedros wanted every country to have 10 percent of their population vaccinated by the end of September 2021 and 40 percent by the end of December.
“Vaccine inequity is a killer of people and jobs and it undermines a global economic recovery. Booster after booster in a small number of countries will not end a pandemic while billions remain completely unprotected,” said Tedros.