The global pandemic should come to an end next year, according to officials at the World Health Organization.
“2022 must be the end of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, speaking Wednesday at the organization’s last planned briefing of the year on the coronavirus.
Tedros said he believed the pandemic will end next year because, two years into the situation, “we know the virus very well and we have all the tools [to fight it].”
He said WHO projections show that vaccine supplies should be sufficient to vaccinate the entire global adult population and to give boosters to high-risk populations by the first quarter of 2022.
The big issues to overcome were “implementing all the tools effectively” and notably, “taking care of equity.”
“Unless we vaccinated the whole world, I don’t think we can end this pandemic,” he concluded.
“My concern is whether we have the stamina to end it,” said Maria Van Kerkhove, technical lead COVID-19, at the WHO Health Emergencies Program, adding: “I believe we can.”
Meanwhile, the WHO is still monitoring whether disease from Omicron is as severe as previous variants such as Delta. This data is still “uncertain,” said Van Kerkhove.
While some companies are already manufacturing Omicron-variant vaccines, the WHO’s Mike Ryan warned that these may not be effective against other circulating strains.
Soumya Swaminathan, WHO’s chief scientist, said ideally, pharmaceutical companies would wait for the WHO to declare which variant to target, in the same way as for seasonal influenza.
She said based on existing data it would likely be a version of the virus that contains the properties that make it more transmissible and more virulent, but this research was ongoing.