WHO warns: 'Omicron variant continues to hospitalize and kill'
WHO warned that although the rapidly spreading Omicron variant of Kovid-19 is "less severe" than the Delta variant, it continues to "hospitalize and kill" especially those who have not been vaccinated.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), said at a press conference with global health experts at the organization's headquarters in Geneva, that 15 million new cases were reported to WHO last week, which is the highest weekly number of global Kovid-19 cases.
"The increasing infections are caused by Omicron, which has replaced the Delta variant in almost every country," Ghebreyesus said. said.
Emphasizing that Omicron still poses a danger even though it causes less severe diseases compared to Delta, Ghebreyesus said, "The number of deaths per week is almost 50 thousand, and this is a lot. Learning to live with the virus should not mean that we will accept these death figures." he said.
Stating that 40 percent of the population in 90 countries cannot be vaccinated against Kovid-19, Ghebreyesus underlined that it is not possible to effectively combat the epidemic without closing the gap in vaccinations.
RECOMMENDATION OF "INFUSING THE FIRST DOSE INSTEAD OF THE STRENGTHEN DOSE"
Stating that WHO is closely monitoring the effect of current Kovid-19 vaccines against the Omicron variant, Ghebreyesus said, "Yesterday, the Technical Advisory Group for Kovid-19 Vaccines emphasized that more vaccines are needed to provide wider access to vaccines and to prevent infection of the epidemic." said.
Reminding the Advisory Group's recommendation that "the priority is on the first dose of vaccinations rather than the booster dose", Ghebreyesus stated that the vast majority of those hospitalized were unvaccinated.
CALL FOR IMPERATIVE HUMANITARIAN ACCESS TO TİGRAY
Referring to the ongoing conflicts in the Tigray region in the north of Ethiopia, Ghebreyesus noted that the situation in the region has not improved, and said, "According to the news we received from a doctor in the region, healthcare professionals have not been able to supply medicines since June 2021. Since September, expired drugs have been used. Limited number of drugs are available. It is said that only 2-3 days will be enough.” he said.
Ghebreyesus stated that vital needs such as food, medical supplies and electricity could not be provided in Tigray, which has been under a blockade for more than a year, and continued as follows:
"As WHO, we tried to gain access to send medicine to Afar and Amhara regions, especially Tigray. While we are allowed to access Afar and Amhara, we are not allowed to enter Tigray. This situation needs to be ended as soon as possible. Unhindered access to humanitarian aid in conflict zones is essential. Humanitarian aid has been reached in other conflict zones such as Syria and Yemen, but medical and food aid has been out of reach in Tigray for 6 months.
Noting that the humanitarian situation in Tigray will not be encountered anywhere else in the world, Ghebreyesus wished for the peaceful resolution of the conflicts in the region by the politicians.
"WE CAN REDUCE THE VIOLENCE OF COVID-19 WITH VACCINES"
Maria Van Kerkhove, the leader of the WHO's fight against Kovid-19, answered the AA reporter's question whether the "warning of more than half of the European population will be infected with the Omicron variant in 6-8 weeks" made yesterday by WHO Regional Director for Europe Kluge, is valid for the whole world. and Bruce Aylward, WHO Senior Advisor, replied.
Kerkhove said, "We see that the Omicron variant is spreading very effectively among humans. If we allow this variant to spread in its current form, we will see higher case numbers in the coming weeks. Currently we are not in a position to prevent all transmissions, but we can limit the spread of the virus. Also, we will see the high number of cases emerging now. We can reduce the severity of Kovid-19 with vaccines." she said.
Noting that the epidemic continues to spread and evolve, Kerkhove said, "Although Omicron is less severe than the Delta variant, it still hospitalizes and kills people." she warned.
"ALARM BELLS ARE RINGING"
Chief Advisor Aylward emphasized that the WHO European Director "rang the alarm bells" due to the rapid increase in the number of Omicron cases.
Stating that he has been working in the field of infectious diseases for 30 years, Aylward said that they had never witnessed such an epidemic and an "epidemic curve" before.
Emphasizing that "throwing the towel in the name of mass immunity" by abandoning measures such as wearing masks and getting vaccinated during the epidemic would be a great wrong choice, Bruce emphasized that such a choice would cost the lives of many people, especially healthcare workers and elderly people.
"We have to remember that the Omicron will not be the final variant." Bruce said, emphasizing that they have not yet predicted in which direction the epidemic will progress and with which variants they will meet.
Bruce urged people to get vaccinated and wear masks, stating that they have to make the right choices right now.