The WHO Director General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus reflected in his weekly press conference in early September that the end of the COVID-19 pandemic might be in sight. However, he was cautious in his optimism and emphasised the need to continue efforts to bring this end about.   

The global marathon 

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus used the metaphor of a marathon runner in his address to journalists. He suggested that the runner “does not stop when the finish line comes into view”. 

“She runs harder, with all the energy she has left. So must we. We can see the finish line. We’re in a winning position.” 

The metaphor concluded with a warning: “now is the worst time to stop running”. He emphasised that we are “not there yet”, and a relaxation of efforts would be fatal. His message was to “seize this opportunity”. This comes with the WHO’s announcement of another policy brief, containing 7 key points: 

  1. Integrate COVID-19 clinical care pathways into primary health care systems. 
  2. Ensure individuals who test positive for SARS-Co-2 are immediately linked to a clinical care pathway.  
  3. Ensure access to appropriate clinical interventions and treatments for all patients with COVID-19. 
  4. Adapt COVID-19 clinical care pathways for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding and children.  
  5. Provide access to follow-up care to detect post-COVID-19 condition (Long COVID).  
  6. Consider accessing therapeutics via the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator. 
  7. Plan for COVID-19 surges.  

The briefs conclude with the reflection that “vaccination is having a substantial impact on case numbers and hospitalisations in a number of high-income countries”. However, “limitations in global access to vaccines” were cited as a barrier that means “many populations remain vulnerable”.  

The Director General described these briefs as an “urgent call for governments” to “look at their policies and strengthen them for COVID-19″ but also “future pathogens with pandemic potential”.  

To hear more about vaccination strategies to cross the finish line click here to attend the World Vaccine Congress in October.