The World Health Organization (WHO) released an updated plan on COVID-19, laying out three possible scenarios for how the pandemic will evolve this year.
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EPA/EFE/ WILL OLIVER
World Health Organization Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus believes that the most likely scenario is that while the disease would continue to evolve, severity would decline as immunity globally rises. However, he again called for more equitable access to vaccine, saying it was the most powerful tool available for saving lives, as Reuters reports.
The updated Strategic Preparedness, Readiness and Response Plan sets out the strategic adjustments that every country needs to make to address the drivers of SARS-CoV-2 transmission, lessen the impact of COVID, and end the global emergency.
"Based on what we know now, the most likely scenario is that the COVID-19 virus continues to evolve, but the severity of disease it causes reduces over time as immunity increases due to vaccination and infection," Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during a briefing.
However, the WHO head cautioned that periodic spikes in cases and deaths may occur as immunity wanes, which may require periodic boosting for vulnerable populations.
Talking about the other two potential scenarios, Tedros said either less severe variants will emerge and boosters or new formulations of vaccines will not be necessary, or a more virulent variant will emerge and protection from prior vaccination or infection will wane rapidly.
This is the third Strategic Preparedness, Readiness and Response Plan released by WHO and will likely be its last, Tedros believes.
The first report was released in February 2020, at the start of the pandemic.