The content originally appeared on: The Anguillian Newspaper

The World Health Organisation (WHO) continues to report a surge in COVID-19 cases, and a plateau in deaths, globally. The number of global COVID-19 cases has increased by 71% within the last week, and in the Americas by 100% with 90% of the more severe cases occurring in unvaccinated persons.

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, repeated his calls for Western countries not to hoard vaccines for use in booster programmes, but to allow for greater vaccine distribution among poorer countries in an effort to get more persons vaccinated. “The world will have enough doses of the vaccine in 2022 to jab the entire global adult population,” he said.

Although the Omicron variant appears to be less severe compared to Delta, WHO compares it to a tsunami and warns that it is killing people around the world. “Just like previous variants, Omicron is hospitalising people around the world and is killing [many of them]. In fact, the tsunami of cases is so huge and quick, that it is overwhelming healthcare systems around the world.”

Omicron is highly contagious and can infect persons even if they are fully vaccinated. However, getting the vaccine is still the best protection against COVID-19 and the severe disease caused by it – which can result in hospitalisation or death.

Anguilla’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Andrewin, noted that “people are getting excited about an end to the pandemic being in sight. And while we hope that is true, it is difficult to say conclusively.

“We know that the Omicron is just the most recent variant of concern, and that the virus continues to mutate. We also know that without vaccination we have the threat of not knowing what is coming next.

“Some virologists say there is a possibility we will continue to see milder and milder variants, but we also know that there is no guarantee. [So], in addition to public health protocols, vaccination is being stressed a lot in terms of helping us to get out of the pandemic sooner rather than later, and avoiding the emergence of even more variants.”