New deadly COVID variant could emerge amid drop in surveillance, vaccination, WHO warns

Lapses in strategies to tackle COVID-19 could create “the perfect conditions” for a deadly new variant to emerge, the World Health Organization’s Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned on Friday.

About 90 per cent of the world’s population now has some level of immunity to SARS-COV-2 either due to prior infection or vaccination, according to the global health agency’s estimates.

“We are much closer to being able to say that the emergency phase of the pandemic is over, but we’re not there yet,” Tedros told reporters during a press conference.

His comments come as China experiences a rebound in infections.

The further easing of COVID-19 testing requirements and quarantine rules in some Chinese cities was met with a mix of relief and worry on Friday, as hundreds of millions await an expected shift in national virus policies after widespread social unrest.

WHO’s emergencies director Mike Ryan said he hopes that a coherent and clear strategy emerges in China “that balances the control of the virus with…the livelihoods, wellbeing and human rights of the people.”

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