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With new and more variants of coronavirus expected to spread around the world, the Covid-19 pandemic is "nowhere near finished", the World Health Organization has warned.

"The WHO's emergency committee has expressed concern that the Covid-19 pandemic is being mischaracterized as coming to an end when it is nowhere near finished," said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, chief of the global health body.

"It has also warned about the strong likelihood for the emergence and global spread of new and possibly more dangerous variants of concern that may be even more challenging to control," he added.

Tedros had a day ago warned that the world may be in the "early stages" of the Covid-19 third wave amid a surge in Delta variant cases.

In view of this, the WHO has called on the world to ensure maximum vaccination coverage as early as possible.

"The committee has called on all countries to support WHO’s call to vaccinate at least 10% of the population of every country by the end of September," said Tedros.

The WHO committee chairman Didier Houssin had also on Thursday said that countries with limited access to vaccines are experiencing new waves of infections.

"Many countries have now vaccinated their priority populations, it is recommended that doses should be shared with countries that have limited access before expanding national vaccination programmes into lower-risk groups," said Houssain.

He said a year-and-a-half after the WHO first declared a so-called Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) -- its highest alert level -- "we are still running after this virus and the virus is still running after us".

For now, four concerning variants of Covid-19 are dominating the global pandemic picture: Alpha, Beta, Gamma and especially the rapidly-spreading Delta variant.

But the committee warned that worse could lie ahead, pointing to "the strong likelihood for the emergence and global spread of new and possibly more dangerous variants of concern that may be even more challenging to control".

WHO declares variants as being "of concern" when they are seen as either more transmissible, more deadly or have the potential to get past some vaccine protections.

"The pandemic remains a challenge globally with countries navigating different health, economic and social demands," the committee said.

"Countries with advanced access to vaccines and well-resourced health systems are under pressure to fully reopen their societies," it said.

The experts lastely recommended, "the use of masks, physical distancing, hand hygiene, and improved ventilation of indoor spaces remains key to reducing transmission".


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