The head of the World Health Organization warned on Monday that the world must prepare for the next global pandemic, warning that the consequences could be even more deadly in the future.
“The threat of another emerging variant that causes further outbreaks of illness and death remains, and the threat of another emerging pathogen with even more deadly potential remains,” WHO Director-General said. Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, at a meeting of the World Health Assembly in Geneva. , noting that pandemics are “far from the only threat we face”.
Tedros stressed that the international community “cannot reject this on the road”.
“If we don’t make the changes that need to be made, then who will? And if we don’t make them now, then when? When the next pandemic hits – and it will – we must be ready to respond in a decisively, collectively and equitably,” he stressed.
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Tedros said it was encouraging and a ‘relief’ to see life ‘back to normal’, although cases are still spreading, and he said the pandemic has shown the world’s population needs to be ‘better protected’ “.
The United States ended its public health emergency on May 11. Earlier this month, the WHO officially ended the COVID-19 global health emergency.
However, while the pandemic has “trend downward”, Tedros noted in a previous briefing that the virus continues to “kill and change”.
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Just days ago, a WHO advisory group recommended that booster shots for this year be updated to target one of the currently dominant XBB variants.
“The risk remains that new variants emerge that cause further surges in cases and deaths,” Tedros said.
More than three years into the pandemic, the virus has caused an estimated 766 million cases worldwide and nearly 7 million deaths, according to the WHO’s coronavirus dashboard.
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Tedros said in the announcement that many mistakes were made, including a lack of coordination, fairness and solidarity.
“We have to promise ourselves and our children and grandchildren that we will never make these mistakes again,” he said.
Reuters contributed to this report.