COVID-19: Weekly Update (September 19, 2022)

The World Health Organization (WHO) says that the end of the COVID-19 pandemic is in sight. The Lancet COVID-19 Commission released the report criticizing the WHO and governments worldwide for failures in pandemic management.

As of September 14, 2022, the 7-day moving average of daily new cases in the US decreased by 15.9% compared with the previous 7-day moving average, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

There was a 6.1% decline in new hospital admissions, while the deaths increased by 3.9% compared to the previous week.

Decrease in new cases, deaths

The WHO Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, announced on Wednesday that 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,” Tedros said during the press briefing.

The WHO data shows that new weekly cases decreased by 28% during the week of September 5 to 11, compared to the previous week, with over 3.1 million new cases reported globally. In addition, the number of new weekly deaths decreased by 22% compared to the previous week, with over 11,000 fatalities reported.

Criticism over pandemic management

The Lancet COVID-19 Commission released the report on “Lessons for the future from the COVID-19 pandemic” last week. The commission was established in July 2020 to prepare recommendations on managing the pandemic and addressing humanitarian, financial, and economic crises resulting from it.

The report suggests the WHO “acted too cautiously and too slowly on several important matters,” including warning about the human transmissibility of the virus, declaring it a public health emergency of international concern, endorsing the public use of protective masks, and recognizing the airborne transmission of the virus.

The commission also criticized most governments globally for being “too slow to acknowledge its importance and act with urgency in response” and for the lack of coordination with other countries on policies to contain the pandemic.

According to the report, the pandemic control was “seriously hindered” by public opposition to routine public health and social measures. The commission says the opposition reflects, among other reasons, extensive misinformation campaigns and inconsistency of government advice.

Moreover, the report's authors note that “policies and decision making have not been informed by robust and continuously updated evidence syntheses.”

COVID-19 impacts on workers

A recent National Bureau of Economic Research analysis suggests that COVID-19 illnesses have reduced the US labor force by approximately 500,000 people, or 0.2 percent of adults. The disease pushed older workers into retirement or impaired people’s health to the extent that they could not work anymore.

The analysis found that workers who miss an entire week due to probable COVID-19 illnesses are approximately seven percentage points less likely to be in the labor force one year after their absence compared to otherwise-similar workers who do not miss work for health reasons.

The WHO policy briefs

The WHO released six policy briefs outlining essential actions that national and sub-national policymakers can implement.

The WHO emphasizes the importance of continuing to offer testing for COVID-19 and detect the disease early in its course. In addition, the organization suggests integrating COVID-19 clinical care pathways into primary health care systems and providing access to follow-up care to detect long COVID-19.

The WHO says vaccines should be deployed to high-priority groups in settings where coverage, including boosters, is incomplete and encourages countries to invest in research and development of vaccine products with improved attributes.

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