Nearly 10,000 died from COVID-19 last month, fueled by holiday gatherings and new variant, WHO says

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) director general, said on Wednesday that the global expansion of the most common type of COVID-19 and holiday get-togethers were to blame for the rise in COVID-19 transmission last month. He stated that there were around 10,000 deaths in December, along with a 42% increase in hospital admissions across almost 50 nations, mostly in the Americas and Europe. Tedros stressed that even while the current death rate is lower than the pandemic’s peak, it is still unacceptable while speaking from the WHO headquarters in Geneva. He recognized the emergence of the JN.1 variety, an omicron form for which current vaccinations should still provide some protection, and asked governments to continue surveillance as well as to guarantee access to therapies and immunizations.

Maria Van Kerkhove, the technical lead for COVID-19 at the WHO, highlighted the global increase in respiratory infections like pneumonia, flu, rhinovirus, and coronavirus. She predicted that these patterns would hold true until January and the winter months in the northern hemisphere, with comparable increases in COVID-19 occurring in the summer in the southern hemisphere. The co-circulation of many illnesses was brought to light by Van Kerkhove, which prompted the World Health Organization to promote vaccination, mask use, and well-ventilated indoor spaces.

Vaccines greatly lower the chance of hospitalization or death, but they may not completely prevent infection, according to Dr. Michael Ryan, Head of Emergencies at WHO. The WHO representatives urged continued precautions to fight the virus’s changing threats.