The World Health Organization’s (WHO) director-general is pressing countries to maintain COVID-19 surveillance and share information on its transmission and sequencing, saying reduced testing abroad “makes us increasingly blind to patterns of transmission and evolution.”
Speaking on Tuesday during a press conference, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus noted that while COVID-19 cases and deaths continue to decline, the world needed to welcome the news “with some caution.”
“This makes us increasingly blind to patterns of transmission and evolution. But this virus won’t go away just because countries stop looking for it. It’s still spreading, it’s still changing, and it’s still killing,” Ghebreyesus said.
“The threat of a dangerous new variant remains very real – and although deaths are declining, we still don’t understand the long-term consequences of infection in those who survive,” he added. “When it comes to a deadly virus, ignorance is not bliss. WHO continues to call on all countries to maintain surveillance.”
The development comes as White House officials have pressed for more money to be authorized by Congress for pandemic funding, though lawmakers have not been able to strike a deal yet.
During his first appearance speaking to reporters in the White House briefing room, COVID-19 response coordinator Ashish Jha on Tuesday warned that durable and effective vaccines potentially ready for the fall and winter as well as new, effective treatments could be jeopardized if administration officials are unable to secure more money for COVID-19.
“The bottom line is that none of us can predict with any certainty where exactly this pandemic is going, what the virus is going to do next. All we can do is prepare. And that’s what we need Congress to do, is to help us prepare and be ready for whatever eventuality comes,” Jha said.