The debate on the strategy with which to deal with the coronavirus has revolved in recent days around a possible change in approach: not counting each case, not testing at the slightest symptom and observing covid-19 as just another respiratory disease. It is the so-called “
”, a position that Spain defends in the medium or long term and that, at the moment, does not seem to be the path defended by the World Health Organization (WHO). "This pandemic is far from over and with the incredible growth of omicron worldwide, new variants are likely to emerge, so monitoring and evaluation remain essential," the director general of the Omicron said at a press conference on Tuesday. WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
Those responsible for the WHO have focused their speech on rejecting the idea of lowering their guard: “Ómicron may be less serious on average, of course, but the narrative that it is a mild disease is misleading, it harms the general response and costs more lives. . Make no mistake, ómicron is causing hospitalizations and deaths, and even less severe cases are flooding health facilities,” Ghebreyesus added.
Maria van Kerkhove, WHO technical chief for covid, has been even more forceful: “Some say that omicron will be the last variant, that the pandemic ends with this. And it is not like that because the virus is circulating at a very intense level throughout the world.” He pointed out that in the last week the cases have increased by 20% compared to the previous one, with 18 million new diagnoses worldwide. “And we believe that it is being underdiagnosed. Comprehensive strategies must continue to be applied to reduce the impact of the disease.” The key idea conveyed by the WHO is "not throwing in the towel" about cutting off the transmission of the virus, in the words of the WHO's chief expert on covid-19, Bruce Aylward. If we enter a phase in which the virus circulates freely, “there will be more risk mutations.Transmission should be reduced as much as possible. Failure to do so is something we will pay dearly for.”
This warning is based on data from the latest global balance of the pandemic, from January 11: in the previous week, deaths from covid-19 had increased by 3% worldwide. The growth was especially pronounced in the area with the least vaccinated population, Africa (84% more deaths than the previous week). “The virus is circulating too much and many are still vulnerable. For many countries, the next few weeks remain really critical for health system workers," said Ghebreyesus.
"I am concerned that unless we change the current model," the WHO director-general warned, "we will enter a second, even more destructive, phase of vaccine inequity. We need to ensure that we share current vaccines equitably and develop distributed manufacturing around the world. We can only beat this virus if we work together and share health tools equitably. It really is that simple.” While Spain has vaccinated 81.66% of the population, according to figures from Our world in data, Nigeria has only immunized 2.37%.
The WHO has insisted on the risk that there will continue to be countries with such low vaccination rates, both because of the danger to vulnerable people in these countries and because of the possibility of new variants appearing. "Right now there is no evidence that healthy children or adolescents need a booster dose - in Spain they are not injecting, but in countries like Israel or the United States a third puncture is applied in this age group-", he has put as an example the leading scientist of the WHO, Soumya Swaminathan. In addition, this expert has rejected that the vaccines focus on specific variants: “There is a risk of going after the latest variant and that when you get the formula there will be another new predominant variant. It is better to have multivalent vaccines. The data so far is reassuring.added Swaminathan.
“In times of omicron, it is more important than ever to vaccinate the unvaccinated.
Vaccines may be less effective at preventing infection and transmission of omicron than earlier variants, but they are still exceptionally good at preventing serious illness and death.
This is key to protecting hospitals from being overwhelmed”, concluded Ghebreyesus.