According to the WHO, over 9,000 individuals lost their lives to COVID-19 in the past month, primarily due to gatherings during the holidays and the spread of a new variant.
The leader of the World Health Organization stated on Wednesday that gatherings during the holiday season and the widespread presence of the dominant COVID-19 variant contributed to a rise in transmission of the virus last month.
In December, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus stated that there were approximately 10,000 deaths reported. Additionally, hospital admissions increased by 42% in nearly 50 countries, primarily in Europe and the Americas, where this information was shared.
The director-general of the World Health Organization stated to reporters in Geneva that while 10,000 deaths per month is lower than the peak of the pandemic, it is still an unacceptable number of preventable deaths.
He stated that there is definite evidence of increasing cases in areas that have not been reporting. He urged governments to maintain monitoring and ensure continued availability of treatments and vaccines.
Tedros announced that the JN.1 variant has become the dominant strain globally. This variant is classified as omicron, meaning that existing vaccines are still expected to offer some level of protection.
Maria Van Kerkhove, who is in charge of technical aspects related to COVID-19 at the World Health Organization, mentioned a rise in respiratory illnesses worldwide due to not only the coronavirus, but also influenza, rhinovirus, and pneumonia.
She stated that the patterns are likely to persist throughout January and the winter season in the northern hemisphere. However, she also mentioned that there have been rises in COVID-19 cases in the southern hemisphere, where it is currently summer.
Van Kerkhove noted that while it is not uncommon to experience coughing, sniffles, fever, and tiredness during the winter months, this year has been notable for the simultaneous presence of multiple types of pathogens.
The World Health Organization advises individuals to receive vaccinations, wear masks, and ensure proper ventilation in indoor spaces.
According to Dr. Michael Ryan, the vaccines may not prevent infection, but they greatly decrease the likelihood of hospitalization or death.