The World Health Organization on Wednesday released an updated strategic preparedness and response plan to tackle Covid-19. The health body’s Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus hoped would be the last one.

“This is our third strategic plan for Covid-19, and it could and should be our last,” he said.

In its Strategic Preparedness, Readiness and Response Plan for 2022, the WHO has laid out three possible scenarios for how the pandemic could evolve this year.

The health body noted that the most likely scenario is that the Covid-19 virus would continue to evolve. However, the severity of the disease it could cause may reduce over time with increasing immunity due to vaccination.

Best and worst case scenarios

In the best case scenario, WHO said, less severe variants of Covid-19 would emerge this year. It also said that boosters or new formulations of vaccines may not be necessary in such a case.

“Periodic spikes in Covid-19 cases and deaths may occur as immunity wanes, which may require periodic boosting for vulnerable populations,” it added.

In the worst case scenario, however, the WHO noted that a more virulent and highly transmissible Covid-19 virus variant could emerge.

“Against this new threat, people’s protection against severe disease and death, either from prior vaccination or infection, will wane rapidly.”

WHO said that in this scenario, the key would be to significantly alter the current Covid-19 vaccines and ensure that they reach those who are most vulnerable to getting infected by a severe disease.

The way forward

To end the acute phase of the pandemic, Ghebreyesus suggested that countries should invest surveillance and public health intelligence, vaccination and social measures, resilient healthcare systems, equitable access to tools and supplies, and coordination.

The WHO reiterated that equitable vaccination should be made priority across the world.

“Even as some high-income countries now roll out fourth doses for their populations, one-third of the world’s population is yet to receive a single dose, including 83% of the population of Africa,” said Ghebreyesus. “This is not acceptable to me and it should not be acceptable to anyone.”

As of Thursday, the virus has infected 48.68 crore people and caused 61.38 lakh deaths since the pandemic began in January 2020, according to the data provided by the John Hopkins University.