New Delhi: Even after over two years, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to wreak havoc around the world as cases have started to increase again after receding in the past few months. While China has put its most populous city of Shanghai under a two-stage lockdown from Monday (March 28), France has been witnessing the number of patients hospitalised due to coronavirus rise increasingly. Similarly, other European countries and nations in various other parts of the world are facing a massive surge in cases fueled by the Omicron BA.2 subvariant, fearing another wave of COVID-19 to advance. Under this scenario, the World Health Organization (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has laid out three possible scenarios for how the pandemic will evolve this year.
While Dr Ghebreyesus notified that the severity of the COVID-19 will reduce over time, he warned that the world needs to remain cautious and protected in case a more virulent and highly transmissible coronavirus variant emerges.
Here are the three ways how the COVID-19 pandemic can evolve this year, according to WHO:
WHO Director-General Dr Ghebreyesus pointed out that based on what is known now, the most likely scenario is that the COVID-19 virus continues to evolve, but the severity of the disease it causes reduces over time as immunity increases due to vaccination and infection. He said,
Periodic spikes in COVID19 cases and deaths may occur as immunity wanes, which may require periodic boosting for vulnerable populations.
"Based on what we know now, the most likely scenario is that the #COVID19 virus continues to evolve, but the severity of disease it causes reduces over time as immunity increases due to vaccination and infection"-@DrTedros
— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) March 30, 2022
In the best-case scenario, we may see less severe variants emerge, and boosters or new formulations of vaccines won’t be necessary, the WHO Chief said.
In the worst-case scenario, a more virulent and highly transmissible #COVID19 virus variant emerges. Against this new threat, people’s protection against severe disease and death, either from prior vaccination or infection, will wane rapidly, he added.
It is required to significantly alter the current COVID19 vaccines and make sure they get to the people who are most vulnerable to severe disease, said Dr Ghebreyesus.
Way Forward: Strategic Preparedness, Readiness And Response Plan For 2022
On Wednesday (March 30), WHO released an updated Strategic Preparedness, Readiness and Response Plan which sets out the strategic adjustments that every country needs to make to address the drivers of SARS-CoV-2 transmission, lessen the impact of COVID, and end the global emergency.
"WHO is releasing updated Strategic Preparedness, Readiness & Response Plan for #COVID19. This is our 3rd strategic plan for COVID-19, & it could & should be our last. It lays out 3️⃣ possible scenarios for how the pandemic could evolve this year"-@DrTedros https://t.co/ryb0QdlTqG
— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) March 30, 2022
In its plan, WHO urges the nations to invest in the following five core components:
Surveillance, Laboratories And Public Health Intelligence
WHO said that public health decision-making at local, national, regional and global levels must be based on real-time, accurate data and analysis. Maintaining and strengthening SARS-CoV-2 surveillance in every country is vital to track the spread and evolution of SARS-CoV-2, rapidly detect and characterize new variants of interest and concern, and calibrate public health and social measures, as well as medical interventions, WHO stressed.
It further said that timely and accurate diagnostic testing for SARS-CoV-2 continues to be an essential part of the comprehensive COVID-19 response strategy and thus investing in testing and genome sequencing is important.
Vaccination, Public Health & Social Measures And Engaged Communities
According to WHO, equitable vaccination remains the single most powerful tool to save lives. Striving to vaccinate 70 per cent of the population of every country remains essential for bringing the pandemic under control, with priority given to healthcare workers, older people and at-risk groups, said WHO.
WHO suggested that until the acute emergency of COVID-19 is ended, it will remain necessary to maintain basic public health and social measures along with robust risk communication and community engagement.
Clinical Care For COVID-19, And Resilient Health Systems
WHO recommends that nations must ensure safe and effective care for people with COVID-19 and post Covid conditions and complications.
Health care systems must be ready to respond to the varying needs of people with mild, moderate, severe and critical diseases, and to identify those suffering delayed consequences of SARS-CoV-2 infection, including those who may not have been diagnosed at the time of acute infection, said WHO.
Research & Development And Equitable Access To Tools & Supplies
According to WHO, only by embedding research at the centre of the pandemic response can the nations end the COVID-19 pandemic and protect the world from the pandemics of the future. It stressed that better data means better decision and so research and innovation efforts and their coordination need to be at the core of pandemic preparedness and response. The plan stresses that the nations must build strategies for tackling vaccine inequity as well.
Coordination, As The Response Transitions From An Emergency Mode To Long-Term Respiratory Disease Management
In its plan document, WHO said that as countries optimize their COVID-19 strategy, it is vital to ensure that the capacities are built for COVID-19 response to be maintained and assimilated into strengthened and resilient health systems. It also advised coordinating efforts to deliver a new model of integrated respiratory disease prevention, surveillance, and care that will reduce morbidity and mortality from all respiratory pathogens at the same time as strengthening readiness for future coronavirus infections.
We have all the tools we need to bring this pandemic under control: we can prevent transmission with masks, distancing, hand hygiene and ventilation; And we can save lives by ensuring everyone has access to tests, treatments and vaccines, said Dr Ghebreyesus
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 population, indigenous 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 (Water, Sanitation 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 pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual 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.