WHO / COVID-19 UPDATE

12-Jan-2022 00:04:29
WHO chief Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, “let’s be clear: while Omicron causes less severe disease than Delta, it remains a dangerous virus, particularly for those who are unvaccinated." WHO
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STORY: WHO / COVID-19 UPDATE
TRT: 4:29
SOURCE: WHO
RESTRICTIONS: NONE
LANGUAGE: ENGLISH / NATS

DATELINE: 12 JANUARY 2022, GENEVA, SWIZTERLAND
SHOTLIST
1. Wide shot, press briefing room
2. SOUNDBITE (English) Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General:
"This huge spike in infections is being driven by the Omicron variant, which is rapidly replacing Delta in almost all countries. However, the number of weekly reported deaths has remained stable since October last year, at an average of 48,000 deaths a week. While the number of patients being hospitalized is increasing in most countries, it is not at the level seen in previous waves. This is possibly due to the reduced severity of Omicron, as well as widespread immunity from vaccination or previous infection. But let’s be clear: while Omicron causes less severe disease than Delta, it remains a dangerous virus, particularly for those who are unvaccinated."
3. Wide shot, press briefing room
4. SOUNDBITE (English) Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General:
"We must not allow this virus a free ride or wave the white flag, especially when so many people around the world remain unvaccinated. In Africa, more than 85 per cent of people are yet to receive a single dose of vaccine. We cannot end the acute phase of the pandemic unless we close this gap. We are making progress. In December, COVAX shipped more than double the number of doses it shipped in November, and in the coming days, we expect COVAX to ship its one billionth vaccine dose."
5. Wide shot, press briefing room
6. SOUNDBITE (English) Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General:
"Yesterday, TAG-CO-VAC emphasized the urgent need for broader access to the vaccines we have, and that further vaccines are needed that have a greater impact on preventing infection and transmission. Until such vaccines are developed, the composition of current COVID-19 vaccines may need to be updated, to ensure they continue to provide WHO-recommended levels of protection against infection and disease. TAG-CO-VAC also said that a vaccination strategy based on repeated booster doses of the original vaccine composition is unlikely to be sustainable."
7. Wide shot, press briefing room
8. SOUNDBITE (English) Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, COVID-19 Technical lead, WHO Health Emergencies Programme:
"Even though Omicron is less severe than Delta, it is still putting people in hospital, it is still putting people into ICU and needing advanced clinical care. It is still killing people. And so, the more people that end up in hospital and fill up the beds from COVID-19, they take beds away from other emergencies that need to be cared for as well. And our health care systems around the world are significantly overburdened."
9. Wide shot, press briefing room
10. SOUNDBITE (English) Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, COVID-19 Technical lead, WHO Health Emergencies Programme:
"We are learning every day more and more about Omicron itself, how Omicron is introduced into a population, what the population level immunity is in that area, in that country, the vaccination coverage, et cetera. And we are seeing Omicron out compete Delta in many populations where Omicron is becoming more prominent compared to Delta. To be able to predict what will happen in the spring depends on many different factors. And again, it is up to us how this pandemic unfolds. This virus is on its way to becoming endemic, there is no question about that but we are very much, right now, in the middle of this pandemic. At the transmission levels that we see right now, at the intensity of spread that we see, at the level of impact that these cases are having on our essential medical services, on essential services, on hospitalization rates, which are increasing in a number of countries. Now certainly we see less rates of hospitalization but the sheer volume of cases is really putting a heavy burden on our healthcare systems. So, the impact that we are seeing is really quite substantial."
11. Wide shot, press briefing room
STORYLINE
WHO chief Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, “let’s be clear: while Omicron causes less severe disease than Delta, it remains a dangerous virus, particularly for those who are unvaccinated."

Speaking to reporters today (12 Jan) in Geneva, Tedros said, "this huge spike in infections is being driven by the Omicron variant, which is rapidly replacing Delta in almost all countries. However, the number of weekly reported deaths has remained stable since October last year, at an average of 48,000 deaths a week.”

He continued, “while the number of patients being hospitalized is increasing in most countries, it is not at the level seen in previous waves,” explaining that “this is possibly due to the reduced severity of Omicron, as well as widespread immunity from vaccination or previous infection.”

The WHO chief also reiterated, "we must not allow this virus a free ride or wave the white flag, especially when so many people around the world remain unvaccinated.”

He explained, “in Africa, more than 85 per cent of people are yet to receive a single dose of vaccine. We cannot end the acute phase of the pandemic unless we close this gap. We are making progress. In December, COVAX shipped more than double the number of doses it shipped in November, and in the coming days, we expect COVAX to ship its one billionth vaccine dose."

Tedros also said that TAG-CO-VAC on Tuesday (12 Jan) “emphasized the urgent need for broader access to the vaccines we have, and that further vaccines are needed that have a greater impact on preventing infection and transmission.”

He continued, “until such vaccines are developed, the composition of current COVID-19 vaccines may need to be updated, to ensure they continue to provide WHO-recommended levels of protection against infection and disease.”

He added that “TAG-CO-VAC also said that a vaccination strategy based on repeated booster doses of the original vaccine composition is unlikely to be sustainable."

WHO’s COVID-19 Technical lead Maria Van Kerkhove also spoke to reporters.

She said, "even though Omicron is less severe than Delta, it is still putting people in hospital, it is still putting people into ICU and needing advanced clinical care. It is still killing people.”

Kerkhove continued, “the more people that end up in hospital and fill up the beds from COVID-19, they take beds away from other emergencies that need to be cared for as well. And our health care systems around the world are significantly overburdened."

She also said, "we are learning every day more and more about Omicron itself, how Omicron is introduced into a population, what the population level immunity is in that area, in that country, the vaccination coverage, et cetera. And we are seeing Omicron out compete Delta in many populations where Omicron is becoming more prominent compared to Delta.”

Kerkhove continued, “to be able to predict what will happen in the spring depends on many different factors. And again, it is up to us how this pandemic unfolds. This virus is on its way to becoming endemic, there is no question about that but we are very much, right now, in the middle of this pandemic.”

She also explained that at the transmission levels, “we see right now, at the intensity of spread that we see, at the level of impact that these cases are having on our essential medical services, on essential services, on hospitalization rates, which are increasing in a number of countries.”

She said, “now certainly we see less rates of hospitalization but the sheer volume of cases is really putting a heavy burden on our healthcare systems. So, the impact that we are seeing is really quite substantial."
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