The World Health Organization told Sky News that the end of COVID-19 next year could be seen as a global emergency, but global health care systems are still at risk of being overwhelmed.
From Protests against the lockdown in Chinato do Japan’s long-awaited reopeningto President Joe Biden announcing the end of the pandemic in the United States.the coronavirus hit the headlines around the world in 2022.
Now as we end the third year of the pandemic, and look towards a fourth, Sky News looks at how different regions have dealt with everything from vaccines to disinformation – and what to expect in 2023.
One of the biggest stories this year was the development. Omicron stresswhich has come to dominate the global COVID-19 caseload.
“We reached over 23 million cases reported in one week,” WHO Dr Maria von Kerkhoff told Sky News.
“We had to rebuild our scale. On the one hand, when we saw such a large increase in transmission, the average was not as severe as Omicron Delta but still in some countries there were more deaths just because of the number of cases.”
Omicron has probably become the dominant form, but it is still evolving and changing, Dr. von Kerkhoff says, with about 500 subspecies in circulation.
He added: “And that is why monitoring needs to continue.
“We need to track known variables. We need to be able to detect new ones.”
But despite the changes with Omicron, the original vaccine continues to protect against severe disease, says Dr. von Kerkhoff.
However, he added that much remains to be done in terms of vaccine coverage worldwide.
While more than 13 billion vaccine doses have been administered globally, the WHO target of 70% of the population in each country has not been achieved.
This is one of the areas where inequality of access can be seen.
Around 79% of people aged 60 and over have received their primary vaccination worldwide, but only 60% in Africa.
“We’re not reaching those goals. And we have to in every single country, but primarily in low-income countries, we’re missing those individuals.”
Dr. von Kerkhoff urged those who have not yet received the vaccine, saying it is not too late.
“And what we’re seeing right now are people who need to be hospitalized, people who are dying, people who either didn’t get the vaccine or didn’t get the full dose that they should have. Required.”
Looking ahead to 2022, she says the year marks countries adjusting their strategies as they try to open up and live with COVID-19.
For example, some countries in the Asia and Pacific regions closed down a lot during the pandemic as they tried to seal themselves off by launching vaccination programs.
Thailand, which relies heavily on tourism, was one of the first Asian countries to open, while Japan and Hong Kong were some of the last.
In these regions, the practice of wearing masks remains, which has been largely abandoned in other parts of the world.
In China, protests against the country’s strict lockdown have spread to some countries. The government has seen the most significant unrest since Tiananmen Square..
The new wave has some leading scientists warning in recent weeks that it could happen. Too early to declare the end of the pandemic.
“It’s clear we’re at a very different stage. [of the pandemic]but in my mind, the pending wave in China is a wild card,” said Dutch virologist Marion Koepmans, who sits on a WHO committee tasked with advising on the status of the COVID emergency. said this December.
Canada saw its own protests earlier in the year Trucks enter the nation’s capital in a protest against mandatory vaccination. That turned into a massive protest against government intervention.
It inspired others across the Atlantic in France and Belgium, with one “Azadi Ka Kavala” calls for lifting of COVID-19 restrictions..
There is a great unknown in Asia What is going on in secret North Korea?who was reluctant to report any cases.
IndiaHowever, this year has seen little impact compared to the 2021 devastation caused by the coronavirus.
Markets, schools, colleges, factories, manufacturing units, government and private offices are all open, while work from home has largely been withdrawn.
This has been helped by the country’s massive vaccination program that has administered 2.2 billion vaccines, covering about 70 percent of the population with two jobs.
In the US, President Joe Biden declared that the “pandemic is over” in September.
That was despite hundreds of Americans dying from the virus every day at the time — down from more than 3,000 deaths a day earlier in his presidency.
But even with more countries opening up in 2022, Dr von Kerkhoff said there was still a risk of health care systems being overwhelmed.
“The virus is spreading unchecked in countries around the world and health care systems everywhere are extremely fragile right now.
“Health workers are absolutely exhausted. Many have retired. Many have left. And we don’t see the strength in the system that needs to be seen.”
But he added that while COVID-19 is here to stay, the next year could see a significant shift in the way the virus is viewed.
“We hope that next year we can end this emergency everywhere because countries are better at dealing with it.
“The big wildcard virus. The wildcard is the mutation and evolution of this virus.”
He said prolonged Covid is a “major concern” and there will be a big push going forward as more research is done into what it is and how to treat it.
Another huge problem that remains is misinformation and partisan politics about the virus.
“So trust is really at an all-time low because everybody’s been through the politicking, the attacks on the science, the misinformation.
“And we have to work very hard to make it. It’s hard won, but easy lost.”
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