The end of the Covid pandemic is 'in sight', World Health Organization declares

Covid cases all over the UK have been falling for weeks. Credit: PA

The end of the Covid pandemic is "in sight", the World Health Organization (WHO) has announced.

The WHO said weekly deaths from the virus around the world are at the lowest level since March 2020 – the month the UK first went into lockdown.

The director general of the international health body, Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, told a press conference: "Last week, the number of weekly reported deaths from Covid-19 was the lowest since March 2020."

"We have never been in a better position to end the pandemic – we are not there yet, but the end is in sight.

The head of the WHO urged countries to keep the pressure on to ensure the pandemic comes to an end. Credit: PA

But he compared the situation to a marathon, saying a runner does not stop when the end is in sight- but rather, they push harder and use all the energy they can muster to get over the line.

He said if the world took its eye off the mark now "we run the risk of more variants, more deaths, more disruption and more uncertainty."

He said the WHO would be releasing six policy briefs that would outline key actions the governments of the world should take to bring the pandemic to an end.

The documents include guidance on testing, vaccination, best practice in managing the disease, maintaining infection control measures in health facilities, preventing the spread of misinformation, and on community engagement.

The vaccines have saved millions of lives. Credit: PA

One of the papers says: "With access to and appropriate use of existing life-saving tools, Covid-19 can become a manageable disease with significantly reduced morbidity and mortality."

The WHO has estimated that 19.8 million deaths were averted in 2021 thanks to Covid vaccines, and 12 billion doses have been administered around the world.

But it warned that the virus still poses an "acute global emergency" and highlighted that during the first eight months of 2022 more than a million people died from Covid.

It comes as UK officials confirmed no plans are being made for people to be able to buy Covid jabs privately.

The flu jab is offered annually to people in at-risk groups, with those who are not in these groups able to purchase the vaccine privately, should they wish to do so.

But the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) confirmed to GP magazine Pulse that there are no plans to mimic this programme with a Covid vaccine, with supplies only available through the NHS.

Covid-19 infections in the UK have dropped to their lowest level for nearly 11 months.

A total of 944,700 people in private households are estimated to have had coronavirus in the week to August 28, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

It is the lowest UK-wide total since the week to 2 October, 2021, when the number was 942,600.

Infections hit 3.8 million in early July during the spread of the Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants, but have been on a broadly downward path in recent weeks.

At the end of August, the Covid-19 alert level in the UK was downgraded from level three to level two.

Level two alert means Covid-19 is "in general circulation but direct Covid-19 healthcare pressures and transmission are declining or stable."