The World Health Organization (WHO) on Thursday warned again against complacency in fighting COVID-19, urging for coordinated action and political commitments to save lives and prevent economic and health damage from the ongoing pandemic.
"(COVID-19) pandemic is not over, but the end is in sight ... Being able to see the end does not mean we are at the end," WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus reiterated at a press briefing on Thursday.
He cited as reasons that the pandemic is still inflicting a death toll of 10,000 per week, most of which could be prevented, while large vaccination gaps exist especially in low- and middle-income countries.
"That means everyone needs to use, when needed, the simple tools that are available to stay safe: distancing, masks and ventilation. And it means everyone needs access to the medical tools to stay safe: vaccines, tests and treatments," he added.
The WHO chief's remarks came as a working group of ACT-Accelerator Facilitation Council released on Thursday its latest report, warning that the global pandemic is not over and that it's no time for COVID-19 complacency.
Co-founded by WHO and partners, the ACT-Accelerator is a global collaboration to accelerate the development, production, and equitable access to COVID-19 tests, treatments, and vaccines.
The report concludes that many countries are far from meeting global targets on vaccination coverage, testing rates, and access to treatments and PPE. And while progress is being made, the global threat of COVID-19 is far from over, particularly for high-risk groups in lower-income countries.
According to the report, COVID-19 vaccination rates in low-income countries stand only at 19 percent, compared to almost 75 percent in high-income countries; and the roll-out of new lifesaving COVID-19 treatments including oral antivirals in low and lower-middle income countries remain limited or non-existent.
The working group recommends that equitable access to COVID-19 countermeasures and preparation for the delivery is critical for countries to integrate the management of the virus into their primary health systems, as part of a longer-term strategy.
It highlights the decline in testing rates and the lack of equitable access to new antiviral treatments for COVID-19, emphasizing that diagnostics and therapeutics, as well as associated test-to-treat strategies, are fundamental components of pandemic response, both for COVID-19 and future health threats.