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WHO: COVID-19 pandemic 'long way from over' despite vaccination efforts

World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Monday that the COVID-19 pandemic is a long way from over citing surges in countries like India. Photo by Martial Trezzini/EPA-EFE
World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Monday that the COVID-19 pandemic is "a long way from over" citing surges in countries like India. Photo by Martial Trezzini/EPA-EFE

May 17 (UPI) -- World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Monday that the COVID-19 pandemic is not over yet despite high COVID-19 vaccination rates and falling case numbers in some countries.

During a press conference from WHO's Swiss headquarters, Tedros noted global COVID-19 cases and deaths had declined for the second consecutive week but also that some nations, such as India, are facing surges.

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"There is a huge disconnect growing, were in some countries with the highest vaccination rates, there appears to be a mindset that the pandemic is over, while others are experiencing huge waves of infection," he said.

"The situation in a number of countries continues to be very concerning. The pandemic is a long way from over, and it will not be over anywhere until it's over everywhere."

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Since the start of the pandemic, 163,2 million people have been infected and nearly 3.4 million have died as a result of the virus while 1.47 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered globally.

Tedros' comments came after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that vaccinated people are no longer required to wear face coverings while outdoors or indoors. The United States reported a weekly average of 33,200 cases per day Sunday, down from 19% the prior week, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

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Meanwhile, India reported an average of nearly 330,000 new cases per day over the same period, down 15% from the previous week but still nearly 10 times higher than the United States.

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Tedros said people must adhere to public health measures such as wearing masks and physical distancing where cases are rising and said measures should not be eased prematurely where cases have fallen.

"WHO has been responding to the surge in cases in India and other hotspots," he said. "However, demand is currently so high that WHO needs immediate funding in order to sustain its technical and operational support to all countries -- especially the most affected -- involved in the present wave."

On Monday, President Joe Biden committed to send 20 million additional doses of the American-made Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines to other countries that have supply shortages.

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