Weekly reported COVID-19 cases almost halved so far this year: WHO

The World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Monday said that the number of weekly reported cases of COVID-19 has fallen by almost half so far this year.

The figure has declined from more than 5 million cases in the week starting Jan. 4 to 2.6 million cases in the week starting Feb. 8, he said at a virtual press conference here.

“This shows that simple public health measures work, even in the presence of variants,” the WHO chief said.

According to him, the number of reported cases of COVID-19 globally has now declined for the fifth consecutive week, and last week saw the lowest number of reported weekly cases since October 2020.

“What matters now is how we respond to this trend. The fire is not out, but we have reduced its size. If we stop fighting it on any front, it will come roaring back,” he said.

“Every day with fewer infections means lives saved, suffering prevented, and the burden on health systems eased just a little bit,” he said, adding that the world now has even more reason to be hopeful of bringing the pandemic under control.

However, Tedros said that the world now has all the pieces in place for the rapid distribution of vaccines and that countries still need to scale-up production and make efforts on vaccine equity.

“Ensuring the rapid and equitable rollout of vaccines globally is essential for saving lives and stabilizing health systems. But it’s also essential for saving livelihoods and stabilizing economies,” he said.

As the world is struggling to contain the pandemic, vaccination is underway in some countries with the already-authorized coronavirus vaccines.

Meanwhile, 242 candidate vaccines are still being developed worldwide — 63 of them in clinical trials — in countries including Germany, China, Russia, Britain and the United States, according to information released by the WHO on Feb. 9.