The director-general confirmed that Omicron is spreading faster than the Delta variant.
World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus is encouraging people to cancel their holiday plans and gatherings this year due to the spread of Omicron.
During a media briefing in Geneva on December 20, Ghebreyesus talked about how COVID-19 has been ravaging the world for the past two years, resulting in the deaths of 3.3 million people in 2021 alone.
That's "more deaths than from HIV, malaria and tuberculosis combined in 2020. And still, COVID-19 continues to claim around 50 000 lives every week," said Ghebreyesus.
"It\u2019s a pleasure to welcome our friends from the Palais back to WHO. \nThe last time we hosted you, in July last year, none of us could have imagined that almost 18 months later, we would still be in the grip of the pandemic."-@DrTedros, media briefing for Geneva-based journalists— World Health Organization (WHO) (@World Health Organization (WHO)) 1640081041
He confirmed that the most recent Omicron variant is now proven to be spreading faster than past variants like Delta.
Omicron can still infect or reinfect people who have been fully vaccinated or have recovered from COVID-19, confirmed Ghebreyesus.
Therefore, mixing socially and attending large holiday gatherings could be detrimental and further spike the new wave that the world is currently experiencing.
"All of us are sick of this pandemic. All of us want to spend time with friends and family. All of us want to get back to normal," said Ghebreyesus. "But an event cancelled is better than a life cancelled. It's better to cancel now and celebrate later, than to celebrate now and grieve later."
According to Ghebreyesus, the fastest way for us to go back to normal is if leaders and people all decide to cancel or delay events so that we don't find ourselves in the same predicament in another 12 months' time.
He also said that for the pandemic to finally end in the next year, 70% of each country's population globally must be vaccinated by mid-2022.
The WHO also approved the emergency use of a ninth vaccine, Novavax, which is produced by the Serum Institute of India, hoping that it will play a fundamental role in achieving the targets for global vaccination.
Ghebreyesus ended the briefing by saying that "2022 must be the year we end the pandemic."
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