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Toxic Mix Of Low COVID-19 Vaccination And Testing A Recipe For Amplifying Variants: WHO Chief

COVID-19: If countries and individuals don’t do what they need to do to stop transmission of Delta, they won’t stop Omicron either, said WHO Chief

Toxic Mix Of Low COVID-19 Vaccination And Testing A Recipe For Amplifying Variants: WHO Chief
Dozens of countries have imposed travel bans on the southern African nations amid COVID variant 'Omicron' scare
Highlights
  • The new Omicron coronavirus variant has been confirmed in 23 countries: WHO
  • Blanket travel bans won’t prevent the international spread of Omicron: WHO
  • Dr Tedros said that WHO is learning more all the time about Omicron

Geneva: Amid the spread of new coronavirus variant Omicron, World Health Organization (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Wednesday (December 1) said the world has a “toxic mix” of low vaccine coverage and very low testing – a recipe for breeding and amplifying variants. “Globally, we have a toxic mix of low vaccine coverage, and very low testing – a recipe for breeding and amplifying variants. That’s why we continue to urge countries to fully fund the ACT Accelerator, to ensure equitable access to vaccine, tests and therapeutics all over the world,” Dr Tedros said at a press briefing.

But if countries and individuals don’t do what they need to do to stop transmission of Delta, they won’t stop Omicron either, he added.

Also Read: Genome Sequencing Can Confirm Presence Of COVID-19 Variant Omicron: Expert

The new Omicron coronavirus variant has been confirmed in 23 countries and their number is expected to rise, Dr Tedros said while adding the development “extremely seriously.”

WHO takes this development extremely seriously, and so should every country. But it should not surprise us. This is what viruses do. And it’s what this virus will continue to do, as we long as we allow it to continue spreading, he said.

Calling for the prevention of transmission of Omicron, Dr Tedros said,

Blanket travel bans will not prevent the international spread of Omicron, and they place a heavy burden on lives and livelihoods.

While thanking Botswana and South Africa for detecting, and reporting this variant so rapidly, the WHO chief called on all countries to take rational, proportional risk-reduction measures, in keeping with the International Health Regulations.

Also Read: Omicron Variant Does Not Escape RT-PCR And RAT, Centre Tells States As It Asks Them To Ramp Up Testing

I thank Botswana and South Africa for detecting, sequencing and reporting this variant so rapidly. It is deeply concerning to me that those countries are now being penalized by others for doing the right thing, he said.

Dr Tedros said that WHO is learning more all the time about Omicron, but there’s still more to learn about its effect on transmission, the severity of disease, and the effectiveness of tests, therapeutics and vaccines.

Several WHO advisory groups have met over the last couple of days to evaluate the emerging evidence, and prioritise the studies needed to answer these questions, he added.

Earlier, the head of the UN health agency has criticized “blunt” and “blanket” measures taken by countries in the past few days to stop the spread of the Omicron variant. In a statement on Tuesday, the WHO Director-General said that it was “deeply concerning” that Botswana and South Africa, where the new variant was first identified, were “being penalized by others for doing the right thing”.

Dozens of countries have imposed travel bans on the southern African nations since the mutation was discovered at the end of last week.

Also Read: Explained: What Are The Symptoms Of Omicron, A Variant Of Concern

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via Banega Swachh India initiative, which is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – the LGBTQ populationindigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (WaterSanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fight malnutrition, mental wellbeing, self care, science and health, adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity,  that is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollutionwaste managementplastic banmanual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.

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