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Emergency phase of pandemic could end in 2022 but conditions still ‘ideal’ for new variants, WHO says

A coronavirus testing van on a New York City street on Jan. 21. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
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The emergency phase of the pandemic could end this year if 70 percent of the population of every country is vaccinated, among other criteria, even as conditions across the globe make the surfacing of new variants a strong possibility, the director general of the World Health Organization said Monday.

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“It is dangerous to assume that omicron will be the last variant, or that we are in the endgame,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at an executive board meeting. “On the contrary, globally the conditions are ideal for more variants to emerge.”

The remarks come as some countries have relaxed their restrictions and after U.S. Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy said last week that the omicron variant has yet to peak in the nation. About 62 percent of the world has received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, according to a New York Times data tracker.

The World Health Organization’s Europe director, Hans Kluge, has also expressed optimism for Europe, telling Agence France-Presse that “it’s plausible that the region is moving towards a kind of pandemic endgame.”

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