WHO Director-General Says ‘Dangerous to Assume’ Omicron Is Final COVID-19 Variant

By Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber is a senior reporter for The Epoch Times based in Maryland. He covers U.S. and world news.
January 24, 2022Updated: January 24, 2022

The World Health Organization’s head on Monday warned against assuming Omicron is the last variant of the virus that causes COVID-19, asserting conditions are ripe for more strains to appear.

“There are different scenarios for how the pandemic could play out and how the acute phase could end. But it’s dangerous to assume that Omicron will be the last variant or that we are in the end game,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general of the body, commonly known as WHO, told a WHO executive board meeting.

“On the contrary, globally, the conditions are ideal for more variants to emerge,” he added.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also says that new variants of the virus are expected to emerge, alleging getting more people vaccinated will slow their emergence.

According to some experts, the more the virus spreads, the higher the chances new variants will come into play.

The vaccines, though, have proven increasingly weak against CCP virus infection—some of the most vaccinated countries in the world have set case records in recent days—and aren’t as protective against severe disease caused by the Omicron virus variant, according to emerging data.

The growing body of evidence showing little protection against infection has driven calls to develop vaccines that specifically target Omicron as well as vaccines that can protect against all coronaviruses.

WHO’s advisory group said earlier in January that “COVID-19 vaccines that have high impact on prevention of infection and transmission, in addition to the prevention of severe disease and death, are needed and should be developed.”

For now, though, officials are continuing to push the current vaccines, with Ghebreyesus claiming that if countries collectively help get more of the world’s population vaccinated against the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, which causes COVID-19, and focus on expanding access to COVID-19 treatments and tests, then “we can end the acute phase of the pandemic this year.

“Vaccines alone are not the golden ticket out of this pandemic. But there is no path out unless we achieve our shared target of vaccinating 70 percent of the population of every country by the middle of this year,” he said.

That may be difficult, considering the current figures. Dozens of WHO member-states, many of them in Africa, haven’t even vaccinated 10 percent of their populations, and 86 member-states have not reached 40 percent coverage.

While Omicron is more transmissible than Delta, the previous dominant strain in many countries, it also causes less severe disease, according to real-world data and studies. Some experts have said they expect future variants to be even less of a threat, especially since more people will have some level of protection from vaccines or prior infection or both.

Ghebreyesus also told the meeting that “we will be living with COVID for the foreseeable future” while urging countries not to “give this virus a free ride” and accept deaths caused by the illness, which he described as “a preventable and treatable disease.”

Svenja Schulze, Germany minister of economic cooperation and development, sounded a similar theme in a joint briefing with WHO officials Monday, saying “nobody should assume that Omicron will be the last variant of the virus.”

“Nobody should feel a false sense of security because vaccination rates in their own country are already higher. No, nobody is safe until we are all safe. We are one world, and this pandemic has clearly shown us all that. That is why investments in the global vaccination campaign are investments in all of our interests,” she added.