Home / News / World /  Covid ‘not going away’, WHO warns as death toll this year crosses 10 lakh

The World Health Organization's Maria Van Kerkhove on Friday warned that Covid is not going away and it was time for a reality check on the virus after the millionth death from the disease this year.

The Covid Technical lead also said the toll was "heartbreaking" because the tests, treatments, vaccines and public health measures to control the disease were all available.

Also Read: Moderna sues Pfizer, BioNTech for patent infringement over Covid-19 vaccine

"Given we're in the third year of the pandemic, it's... all the more so tragic given that we have the tools that can actually prevent these deaths," she told a live interaction on the WHO's social media channels.

"A lot of us have become numb to the numbers."

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"We need a reality check. We really need to take stock of where we are. We should not be in a position with 14,000 or 15,000 people dying every week. We just shouldn't."

Van Kerkhove insisted that the pandemic was not over, but it could be brought to an end while people continue to live their daily lives.

"We just need to put a little extra thought into that, of being a bit more careful," she said.

"A lot of people are talking about living with Covid. But we need to live with this responsibly.

"A million deaths this year is not living with Covid. Having 15,000 deaths per week is not living with Covid-19 responsibly."

Nearly 6.45 million deaths have been reported to the WHO since the virus was first detected in China in late 2019.

More than 5.3 million new cases were reported to the UN health agency last week.

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"These are huge numbers, and that's an underestimate," said Van Kerkhove, with home testing not being reflected in surveillance data.

"We do see this virus circulating really intensely around the world.

"The virus is not going away, unfortunately."

Earlier, she had pointed out that in the coming days, the cases are likely to continue to rise ‘given the limited use of public health and social measures’. But COVID19 hospitalisations, deaths & Long Covid can be minimised. She had also said that efforts need to be made to strengthen the use of life-saving interventions.

How risk of COVID deaths and hospitalisation can be reduced:

As per Van Kerkhove, lives can be saved now with early testing, the right clinical care & treatments and vaccination administered by trained, protected & respected work force. Vaccination amongst those most at risk in all countries is not as high as it should be.

Infections and risk of #LongCovid can be reduced with simple measures.

COVID-19 vaccines are working incredibly well at preventing severe disease. Get vaccinated and get all recommended doses when it’s your turn.

Governments need to focus on reaching at missed risk people.

There is no zero risk but we can live our lives while taking simple measures: get vaccinated with all recommended doses; wear a mask while indoors, spend time outdoors, ventilate, test, seek care.

She had also stated that, currently, Omicron BA5 is the dominant circulating variant but new variants are to emerge in the coming days, the official said cautioning, “reduced surveillance, testing & sequencing globally is making our ability to track known & detect new variants much more difficult."


(With inputs from AFP)

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