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cautiously optimistic

WHO chief says COVID's end is 'in sight'

World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Wednesday said global data is showing while "we are not there yet," the end of COVID-19 "is in sight."

Last week, the number of reported COVID-19 cases dropped to a low not seen since March 2020, the beginning of the pandemic. Deaths fell by 22 percent in the past week, WHO said, to around 11,000, and the number of new cases dropped 28 percent to 3.1 million.

This isn't the time to get too relaxed, Tedros warned, adding that it's possible many cases are going unreported due to eased COVID-19 testing and surveillance in many parts of the world. "Now is the worst time to stop running," he said. "Now is the time to run harder and make sure we cross the line and reap all the rewards of our hard work." If countries don't stay on offense against COVID, "we run the risk of more variants, more deaths, more disruption, and more uncertainty," Tedros declared.

The Omicron subvariant BA.5 remains the most prevalent, showing up in almost 90 percent of virus samples worldwide. In the United States, Europe, and other parts of the globe, regulators have approved use of vaccines that have been reformulated to target the original COVID-19 strain and the BA.5 and BA.4 subvariants.