(Geneva) The number of deaths caused by COVID-19 has fallen by 95% since the beginning of the year, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced on Wednesday, while warning that the virus was still circulating.

According to her, the virus is not about to disappear and countries around the world must learn to manage its consequences outside of emergency situations, such as the effects felt by some people who have contracted the disease in its so-called COVID-19 long version.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, head of the WHO, said one in ten infections result in long-lasting COVID-19, suggesting that hundreds of millions of people may need long-term care.

Still, “we take great courage from the continued decline in the number of recorded COVID-19 deaths, which have fallen by 95% since the start of this year,” he said during a briefing. press conference.

“Several countries are seeing a resurgence, however, and in the past four weeks, 14,000 people have succumbed to this disease,” he said.

According to him, as shown by the emergence of the XBB.116 variant, “the virus continues to mutate and it is still capable of causing new waves of infections and deaths”.

Maria Van Kerkhove, who leads the fight against COVID-19 at the WHO, clarified that the XBB variant and its subvariants are now globally dominant.

They are able to evade immune protections, which means that vaccinated or already infected people are likely to contract the disease again.

She advocated for increased surveillance through testing, to oversee the virus and understand its various mutations. Knowledge which, according to her, should make it possible to refine the composition of vaccines and to decide on the actions to be taken.

The head of the WHO reiterated that his organization remains hopeful of declaring the end of the global health emergency linked to COVID-19. The next WHO quarterly meeting on the subject is scheduled for May.