"Let's honour those we've lost by getting better at what we do," said the WHO senior official in the final WHO covid-19 press conference of the year on Monday.
The WHO Technical Lead on Covid-19 Dr. Maria van Kerkhove noted that some of the countries that have coped better with covid-19 have not necessarily been those with the highest incomes, but those that have lived through other infectious disease outbreaks.
Those countries, she said, have used their memory of traumatic events to kick their systems into gear, and act to comprehensively tackle the virus.
WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told journalists that the UN agency is learning new things about the virus every day, including the ability of new variants to spread, make people sick, or have a potential impact on available tests, treatments or vaccines.
Dr. Tedros singled out work taking place in the United Kingdom and South Africa, where scientists are carrying out epidemiologic and laboratory studies, which will guide the agency’s next steps.
"Only if countries are testing effectively will you be able to pick up variants and adjust strategies to cope", said the WHO chief.
"We must ensure that countries are not punished for transparently sharing new scientific findings," he added.