Updated preparedness plan by WHO

WHO is releasing our updated Strategic Preparedness, Readiness, and Response Plan for COVID-19.

During yesterday’s Press conference, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that this is the third strategic plan for COVID-19, and it might be the last.

“It lays out three possible scenarios for how the pandemic could evolve this year.” he continued

“Based on what we know now, the most likely scenario is that the virus continues to evolve, but the severity of disease it causes reduces over time as immunity increases due to vaccination and infection.

Periodic spikes in cases and deaths may occur as immunity wanes, which may require periodic boosting for vulnerable populations. ” stated Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus

He continued by saying that In the best-case scenario, we may see less severe variants emerge, and boosters or new formulations of vaccines won’t be necessary.

In the worst-case scenario, a more virulent and highly transmissible variant emerges. Against this new threat, people’s protection against severe disease and death, either from prior vaccination or infection, will wane rapidly.

“Addressing this situation would require significantly altering the current vaccines and making sure they get to the people who are most vulnerable to severe disease.” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus continued the conference by saying what is needed to move forward, and end the acute phase of the pandemic this year.

He said that it requires countries to invest in five core components:

First, surveillance, laboratories, and public health intelligence;

Second, vaccination, public health and social measures, and engaged communities;

Third, clinical care for COVID-19, and resilient health systems;

Fourth, research and development, and equitable access to tools and supplies;

And fifth, coordination, as the response transitions from an emergency mode to long-term respiratory disease management.

“We have all the tools we need to bring this pandemic under control: we can prevent transmission with masks, distancing, hand hygiene and ventilation;

And we can save lives by ensuring everyone has access to tests, treatments and vaccines.

Equitable vaccination remains the single most powerful tool we have to save lives. ” declared Dr Tedros

“Striving to vaccinate 70% of the population of every country remains essential for bringing the pandemic under control, with priority given to health workers, older people and other at-risk groups.

I’m surprised that there are some in the global health community who see the 70% target as no longer relevant.

Many high- and middle-income countries have reached this target, and have seen a decoupling between cases and deaths.

Even as some high-income countries now roll out fourth doses for their populations, one third of the world’s population is yet to receive a single dose, including 83% of the population of Africa.

This is not acceptable to me, and it should not be acceptable to anyone.

If the world’s rich are enjoying the benefits of high vaccine coverage, why shouldn’t the world’s poor? Are some lives worth more than others?

Even as we continue to respond to the pandemic, WHO is also putting in place new measures to help keep the world safe against future epidemics.

Today we are launching a new strategy to scale up genomic surveillance globally for pathogens with epidemic and pandemic potential.

And tomorrow we launch a new global strategy for arboviruses – the family of viruses spread by mosquitoes that includes Dengue, Zika, Chikungunya and Yellow fever, and which pose a threat to more than half the world’s population. ” He concluded.

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