End of pandemic 'in sight,' WHO says: 4 COVID-19 updates

Globally, new weekly COVID-19 deaths have reached their lowest point since the start of the pandemic in March 2020, according to the World Health Organization's latest epidemiological report

For the week ending Sept. 11, 11,000 deaths were reported, marking a 22 percent decrease from the previous week. Newly reported global cases also fell 28 percent from the previous week. 

"We have never been in a better position to end the pandemic," WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, PhD, said during a Sept. 14 press briefing. "We are not there yet, but the end is in sight," he said, urging the world's health authorities to take advantage of the progress. 

"We can see the finish line. We are in a winning position, but now is the worst time to stop running," Dr. Tedros said. "Now is the time to run harder and make sure we cross the line and reap the rewards of all our hard work." 

There have been 605 million confirmed cases since the start of the pandemic and 6.4 million deaths, according to the WHO. 

Three more COVID-19 updates: 

1. U.S. cases, hospitalizations and deaths are all down. The nation's seven-day average for new cases on Sept. 14 was 62,832, marking a 30 percent decrease from two weeks ago, according to HHS data compiled by The New York Times. The figure, however, is likely an undercount since it does not include results from at-home tests. Hospitalizations are down 11 percent from two weeks ago, with 33,552 people hospitalized with COVID-19. About 400 people in the U.S. are still dying from COVID-19 every day. For comparison, COVID-19-related deaths hovered above 3,000 each day during the peak in January 2021. 

2. The nation's omicron booster rollout is in motion. The White House is encouraging high-risk individuals to receive an updated booster, which targets omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5, as soon as possible. The rest of the public should aim to get them by Halloween, according to Ashish Jha, MD, White House COVID-19 response coordinator. The White House said it expects annual fall COVID-19 booster campaigns to become the norm amid signs that the virus will follow a seasonal pattern. 

3. The Lancet published a highly critical assessment of the world's pandemic response efforts Sept. 14. The Lancet COVID-19 Commission Report called the world's COVID-19 death toll "both a profound tragedy and a massive global failure at multiple levels." The report offers a stark contrast to the WHO's encouraging messaging shared the same day. The WHO said it welcomes the report's overarching recommendations to improve pandemic preparedness and response efforts but argues that the report contains "several key omissions and misinterpretations" surrounding the speed and scope of the organization's actions. 


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