Decline in COVID-19 safety protocols adherence this year has created a gap for a lethal new strain to evolve, while infections have increased in regions of China, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has observed.
WHO Director General, Adhanom Ghebreyesus Tedros disclosed this recently, months after he said that the world has never been in a better position to end the pandemic.
“We are much closer to being able to say that the emergency phase of the pandemic is over, but we’re not there yet.
“Gaps in testing … and vaccination are continuing to create the perfect conditions for a new variant of concern to emerge that could cause significant mortality,” Tedros said.
According to the WHO, over 90 per cent of the world’s population currently has some level of protection to SARS-COV-2, either through earlier illness or immunisation.
COVID- 19 infections have reached all-time highs in China and have begun to climb in parts of the United Kingdom following months of decrease.
Recently, the relaxation of COVID-19 testing criteria and quarantine laws in several Chinese towns was welcomed with a combination of relief and concern, as hundreds of millions awaited a shift in national viral policy following growing social upheaval.
“While COVID-19 and flu can be mild infections for many, we must not forget that they can cause severe illness or even death for those most vulnerable in our communities”, Mary Ramsay, director of public health programmes at the UK Health Security Agency, said.
The WHO advised governments worldwide to prioritise reaching out to individuals at risk for immunisation, such as those over the age of 60 and those with underlying diseases.