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A healthcare worker gives directions to a woman seeking a Covid-19 vaccination clinic in Hong Kong on February 16, 2022. Hong Kong is currently in the fifth phase of the pandemic, recording thousands of new cases per day. (Photo: Ben Marans/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

WHO Chief's Message to Nations of the World: 'The Pandemic Is Not Over'

The head of the agency, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, called on "all countries to remain vigilant."

Jenna McGuire

At Wednesday's World Health Organization media briefing, Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called on countries around the world to remain vigilant in combating Covid-19, declaring that "the pandemic is not over."

While reported cases have been declining over the past several weeks, Tedros said that infections are once again increasing globally—especially in parts of Asia.

Tedros warned that the rising case numbers are "just the tip of the iceberg," due to the reduction of testing in many countries—making the full scale of infections unknown.

With many in the developing world still lacking access to lifesaving vaccines, Tedros urged nations to expand vaccination programs worldwide.

"There are unacceptably high levels of mortality in many countries, especially where vaccination levels are low among susceptible populations," said Tedros.

His plea comes as restrictions and public health funding are being rolled back in the U.S., even as infections have risen dramatically in China, South Korea, Hong Kong, and many European nations this week.

"Continue to vaccinate, test, sequence, provide early care for patients, and apply common-sense public health measures to protect health workers and the public," said the WHO director-general. "And we continue to work night and day to expand access to vaccines everywhere."

Tedros' comments came as members of the World Trade Organization finally reached a deal on temporarily waiving intellectual property rights for Covid-19 vaccines—though not tests or treatments—after nearly 18 months of negotiations.

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