Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus
World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. Image Credit: AFP

Geneva/Johannesburg: The World Health Organisation (WHO) chief on Friday said he is optimistic that the COVID-19 will be defeated in 2022, provided countries work together to contain its spread.

In a new year statement, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesu warned against “narrow nationalism and vaccine hoarding”.

His comments come two years since the WHO was first notified of cases of an unknown pneumonia strain in China. Dr Tedros, who two days ago was conerned about tsunami of cases, sounded a positive, noting that there are now many more tools to treat COVID-19.

But he warned that continuing inequity in vaccine distribution was increasing the risk of the virus evolving, according to BBC. “Narrow nationalism and vaccine hoarding by some countries have undermined equity and created the ideal conditions for the emergence of the Omicron variant, and the longer inequity continues, the higher the risks of the virus evolving in ways we can’t prevent or predict,” he said.

In South Africa, which first raised the alarm about the new fast-spreading coronavirus variant, gave the world one of the last big good surprises of the year, announcing that the Omicron wave had crested without a huge surge in deaths. It abruptly lifted a night time curfew, allowing celebrations to ring in 2022.

The number of infections fell by roughly 30 per cent to just under 90,000 for the week ending December 25, down from some 127,000 in the prior corresponding period, government data show. The number of hospital admissions has also been significantly lower over the past 1 weeks.

More canceled flights frustrated air travelers on the final day of 2021 and appeared all but certain to inconvenience hundreds of thousands more over the New Year’s holiday weekend.

Across the world people are marking the new year but celebrations are muted, with many countries wanting to discourage crowds gathering.

Coronavirus remains part of daily life: a disease that has shut borders, split families and in some places made it unthinkable to leave the house without carrying a mask.

Despite all this, Dr Tedros sounded a positive note in his speech.