The end of Covid-19 as a global health emergency is not the end of the virus as a global health threat, WHO chief
Tedros Adhanam Ghebreyesus
has warned. In his address to the 76th
World Health Assembly
said the threat of another variant that causes new surges of disease and death remains. He also warned that “the threat of another pathogen emerging with even deadlier potential remains”.
Speaking weeks after ending the global emergency status for the Covid-19 pandemic, Tedros said it was time to advance negotiations on preventing the next pandemic. “When the next pandemic comes knocking —and it will — we must be ready to answer decisively, collectively and equitably. ”
Tedros said the Covid-19 pandemic has had significant implications for the health-related targets in the ‘sustainable development goals’ (SDGs) and each of the ‘triple billion’ targets. The triple billion targets, set in 2017, call for ensuring one billion more people have universal health coverage, a billion more are better protected from health emergencies, and another billion more enjoy better health and wellbeing in a five year period.
Covid-19 also showed that eight billion people — basically everyone on the planet — need to be better protected in emergencies. “The pandemic has blown us off course, but it has shown us why the SDGs must remain our north star, and why we must pursue them with the same urgency and determination with which we countered the pandemic,” he said. Tedros called for urgent and constructive negotiations on the new global pandemic accord and the
International Health Regulations
, the treaty that governs preparedness and response to health emergencies, “so the world will never again have to face the devastation of a pandemic like Covid-19”.