WHO warns nations about lifting COVID-19 restrictions
The head of the World Health Organization (WHO) warned countries against lifting their COVID-19 restrictions, saying the “virus is dangerous, and it continues to evolve before our very eyes.”
“We’re concerned that a narrative has taken hold in some countries that because of vaccines, and because of omicron’s high transmissibility and lower severity, preventing transmission is no longer possible and no longer necessary,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during a media briefing on Tuesday.
“Nothing could be further from the truth. More transmission means more disease,” he continued.
Tedros said he did not believe that nations needed to return to lockdowns to curb further spread of the COVID-19 pandemic amid the spread of the highly transmissible omicron variant, but he said that nations could not rely on vaccination alone to solve the pandemic.
“It’s premature for any country either to surrender or to declare victory,” he said, noting that the WHO was currently tracking four sub-lineages of the omicron variant alone.
“We call on countries to continue testing, surveillance and sequencing. We can’t fight this virus if we don’t know what it’s doing,” he said. “And we must continue to work to ensure all people have access to vaccines.”
Though many states have largely done away with the lockdown measures that were first instituted in the first months of the pandemic, COVID-19 fatigue has started to set in for some Americans weary of restrictions and disruptions to pre-pandemic life.
Some cities and states have extended their mask mandates, including Washington, D.C., and New York, though some health officials are optimistic that the severity of the pandemic is trending downward.
“Despite growing pandemic fatigue and rough weeks ahead as the Omicron tsunami recedes, we’re better defended against Covid than ever. Vaccines and prior infection have steadily strengthened our collective immune defenses. We have now built up a wall of immunity — although we have lost far, far too many people along the way to get here,” former Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Tom Frieden wrote in an op-ed published by CNN on Tuesday.