The Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, has issued a stern warning concerning the potential of an upcoming virus that could be even more lethal than the COVID-19. Delivering his speech at the annual World Health Assembly in Geneva, he underlined the urgency for intensified global discussions to prevent future pandemics.
Even though the WHO has lifted the health emergency status associated with COVID-19, Dr. Tedros stressed that we are not yet past the ongoing pandemic. He urged global readiness for a pathogen that could be "even deadlier" than COVID-19, which has already claimed over 20 million lives, according to The Independent.
Dr. Tedros underscored that the danger of another mutation leading to fresh disease outbreaks and deaths persists. Furthermore, he emphasized the constant threat of another more lethal pathogen. As reported by the Daily Mail, the WHO has highlighted nine priority diseases that pose significant threats to public health. These diseases have been identified due to either the absence of effective treatment or their potential to cause a pandemic.
Referring to the unpreparedness and surprise that the world faced during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Tedros emphasized that it was "the most severe health crisis in a century," according to The Mirror.
In the aftermath of ending the global emergency status for the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Tedros maintained that it's time to push forward with negotiations to prevent the next potential pandemic. "We cannot kick this can down the road," he proclaimed, pressing on the inevitability of a subsequent pandemic.
Questioning who will make the necessary changes if not now, Dr. Tedros urged the member states to take timely action. The annual World Health Assembly, held in Geneva for ten days and coinciding with the WHO's 75th anniversary, is set to address an array of global health challenges. These include potential future pandemics, polio eradication, and measures to alleviate the health crisis in Ukraine, which has been exacerbated by Russia's invasion.