Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director-general, urged caution in handling COVID-19 pandemic at a media briefing on Wednesday, saying that even though cases and deaths are declining globally, the pandemic is not over and a new, more dangerous variant can surface anytime.

“The pandemic is not over, and we will keep saying it’s not over until it is,” he said.

He said the perception that the pandemic was over was misguided. “More than 7,000 people lost their lives to this virus last week. A new and even more dangerous variant could emerge at any time, and vast numbers of people remain unprotected,” he added.

There is not enough testing and not enough vaccination globally. “On average, about three-quarters of health workers and people aged over 60 globally have been vaccinated. But these rates are much lower in low-income countries,” he said.

He noted that almost 18 months since the first vaccine was administered, 68 countries have still not achieved 40 percent coverage. WHO and its partners are working with countries to drive uptake by getting vaccines to where people are, through mobile units, door-to-door campaigns and by mobilizing community leaders.

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