Omicron now in 24 countries; WHO asks nations to fully vaccinate 40% of population by year-end to end pandemic

Fully vaccinate 70 percent of population by middle of next year, says WHO as Tedros airs appeal to beat COVID through cooperation, vaccine donations, info sharing

This photograph taken on January 29, 2021 shows a sign of the World Health Organization (WHO) at the entrance of their headquarters in Geneva amid the Covid-19 outbreak, caused by the novel coronavirus. (Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP)

(Eagle News) — The head of the World Health Organization (WHO) asked member states and countries to beat and end the COVID-19 pandemic by fully vaccinating at least 40 percent of their population by year-end and 70 percent by the middle of next year.

WHO Director General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that it is also important to negotiate a WHO convention or accord that would serve as an international instrument “on pandemic prevention, preparedness and response.”

This call came about as the COVID-19’s newest variant, Omicron, was found it at least 24 countries.

Omicron was first reported to the WHO from South Africa on November 24, while the first known laboratory-confirmed case was identified from a specimen collected on November 9.

The Netherlands said Tuesday it had found the variant in two samples taken on November 19 and 23, one having recently been to southern Africa and the other having no travel history.

On Wednesday, the United States reported its first Omicron variant case from a traveler who came from South Africa

Here are the countries that have so far reported Omicron variant cases:

Australia – 7 cases
Austria – 1 case
Belgium – 1 case
Botswana – 19 cases
Brazil – 2cases
Canada – 6 cases
Czech Republic – 1 case
Denmark – 4 cases
France – 1 case on Reunion Island
Germany – 9 cases
Hong Kong – 4 cases
Israel – 4 cases
Italy – 9 cases
Japan – 2 cases
Netherlands – 16 cases
Nigeria – 3 cases
Norway – 2 cases
Portugal – 13 cases
Saudi Arabia – 1 case
South Africa – 77 cases
Spain – 2 cases
Sweden – 3 cases
United Kingdom – 22 cases
United States – 1 case




Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO’s Covid-19 technical lead, said timelines around first detections of Omicron may change as there was a backlog of sequencing of cases that occurred in November.

Tedros said the WHO was taking the emergence of Omicron “extremely seriously”, but added that the mutation “should not surprise us. This is what viruses do.

“And it’s what this virus will continue to do, as we long as we allow it to continue spreading.”

Tedros said Omicron was in at least 23 countries — with that number expected to grow. He made the announcement before the US bared that it had found an Omicron variant case.

Van Kerkhove said the WHO was not yet aware of any deaths associated with Omicron.

-Support for accord for pandemic preparedness-

On Wednesday, December 1, Tedros welcomed the “overwhelming support expressed by Member States for the need for a new accord on pandemic preparedness and response.”

“I have one simple request for all Member States, and that is: end this pandemic,” he said.

“As we mark World AIDS Day, we are reminded that more than 40 years into the global AIDS epidemic, we still have no vaccine and no cure for this disease. Two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, we have not one but many vaccines, and many other effective tools.”


This handout picture made available by the World Health Organization (WHO) on November 29, 2021 shows WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus addressing the special session of the World Health Assembly in Geneva. – The world must study the wreckage of Covid-19 and say “never again” by striking a pandemic preparedness treaty, the WHO said as countries gathered to build a new accord. (Photo by Christopher Black / World Health Organization / AFP)


Tedros said that “just in the past week, this virus has demonstrated that it will not simply disappear.”

“How many more lives and livelihoods it takes is up to us. Ending the pandemic is not a matter of chance; it’s a matter of choice,” he said.

-End this pandemic, says WHO chief as he airs call for member states –

“I call on all Member States to choose to achieve our targets of vaccinating 40% of the population of every country by the end of this year, and 70% by the middle of next year,” Tedros said.

“I call on those countries that have already reached 70% to choose to swap your vaccine delivery schedules with COVAX and AVAT, as Switzerland has just done,” he said.

The WHO chief also listed other recommendations and call to action for all member states and other countries:

-for Member States to choose to remove every barrier to scaling up vaccine production, by sharing technology and know-how, and by supporting a waiver of intellectual property rights;

-for countries that have promised to donate vaccines to choose to make good on those promises, as urgently as possible;

-for Member States to choose to fully fund the ACT Accelerator, which needs 23.4 billion U.S. dollars over the next 12 months to get tests, treatments and vaccines to where they are needed most.

-for every Member State to choose a comprehensive, tailored, layered combination of proven public health and social measures to reduce transmission, reduce the pressure on your health systems, and save lives;

-for all Member States to focus on strengthening and optimizing clinical pathways, from primary to intensive care, ensuring the right patient get the right care at the right time, and that health workers are supported and protected while doing their life-saving work.

-for Member States to intensify and target risk communication, strengthen community engagement, empowerment and support, addressing community concerns, combatting misinformation and building trust.

-for every Member State to choose to increase surveillance, testing, sequencing and reporting, and to refrain from penalizing countries that do, in compliance with the International Health Regulations.

-for all Member States to choose to commit to strengthening your WHO, especially by supporting the proposals of the Working Group on Sustainable Financing.

“We are one humanity. We have one planet. We have one health. And we have one WHO. Your WHO,” Tedros added.

(Eagle News Service with a report from Agence France Presse)