The WHO director’s comments mark a change in tone after months of saying the world was never in a better position to end the pandemic.
“We are very close to being able to say that the pandemic emergency phase is over, but we have not yet reached that goal,” Tedros said today, Friday.
The organization estimates that about 90 percent of the world’s population has some level of immunity against Covid-19, either due to a previous infection or as a result of receiving a vaccine.
“Gaps in testing and vaccination continue to create conditions for the emergence of a new, worrying variant that could cause many deaths,” Tedros said.
China is recording record numbers of Covid-19 infections, and the number of cases has also begun to rise in Britain, after declining for months.
The easing of COVID-19 testing requirements and quarantine rules in some Chinese cities was met with a mixture of relief and anxiety on Friday, as hundreds of millions await a shift in national virus policies after social unrest spreads.
“While COVID-19 and influenza can be mild infections for many, we must not forget that they can cause severe illness or even death in the most vulnerable members of our communities,” said Mary Ramsay, director of the Public Health Program at the NHS.
The World Health Organization urged governments to focus on reaching those at risk, such as those over the age of 60 and those with medical problems, in order to vaccinate them.