World Health Organization Statement On COVID-19 Variants


The Emergency Committee will be reconvened within three months, at the discretion of the Director-General.

 The Director-General thanked the Committee for its work.

Advice to the WHO Secretariat:

SARS-CoV-2 Variants

Continue to work with partners to develop standardized definitions and nomenclature of SARS-CoV-2 virus variants, based on their genetic sequence, that avoids stigmatization and is geographically and politically neutral. Provide clear information to State Parties on what constitutes a variant of concern. 

Continue to increase worldwide capacities for SARS-CoV-2 molecular testing and genetic sequencing, in line with WHO guidance, and encourage rapid sharing of sequences and meta-data to strengthen monitoring of virus evolution and to increase global understanding of variants and their effects on vaccine, therapeutics and diagnostic efficacy.

Strengthen the SARS-CoV-2 risk monitoring framework for variants by accelerating collaboration and harmonizing research to answer critical unknowns about specific mutations and variants, through relevant networks and expert groups such as WHO SARS-CoV-2 Virus Evolution Working Group and the WHO R&D Blueprint for Epidemics.

COVID-19 Vaccines

Accelerate research on critical unknowns about COVID-19 vaccination efficacy on transmission, duration of protection against severe disease and asymptomatic infection, duration of immunity (following infection or vaccination), long-term protection after using different vaccination intervals, protection after a single dose, and vaccination regimes, in line with the SAGE and the Research and Development Blueprint recommendations.

Promote global solidarity and equitable vaccine access by encouraging States Parties and manufacturers to donate resources and provide support to the COVAX Facility.

Promote technology transfer to low- and middle- income countries with the potential capacity to accelerate global production of COVID-19 vaccines.

Support State Parties, including fragile states, in preparing for COVID-19 vaccine introduction by developing a national deployment and vaccination plan, in line with WHO guidance, that addresses barriers to COVID-19 vaccine readiness. Such planning should include prioritization of populations, regulatory authorization, supply and logistics preparation, indemnification and liability, health workforce planning, and access for humanitarian and vulnerable population.   

Health Measures in Relation to International Traffic

Lead development of risk-based international standards and guidance for reducing SARS-CoV-2 transmission related to international travel (by air, land, and sea) based on current science and good practices that include clear recommendations for testing approaches and quarantine duration as appropriate. The guidance should additionally include advice on adapting those measure to specific risk settings, including movements of migrants, temporary workers, travellers and conveyance operators.

Rapidly develop and disseminate the WHO policy position on the legal, ethical, scientific, and technological considerations related to requirements for proof of COVID-19 vaccination for international travelers, in accordance with relevant IHR provisions.

Coordinate with relevant stakeholders the development of standards for digital documentation of COVID-19 travel-related risk reduction measures ,that can be implemented on interoperable digital platforms. This should include vaccination status in preparation for widespread vaccine access.

Encourage States Parties to implement coordinated, time-limited, risk-based, and evidence-based approaches for health measures in relation to international travel.

Evidence-Based Response Strategies

Continue to rapidly provide and regularly update evidence-based advice; guidance; tools; and resources, including regular dissemination of resources to combat misinformation for COVID-19, to enhance evidence-based COVID-19 preparedness and response strategies and implementation of such strategies.


Continue to actively support countries to further strengthen their SARS-CoV-2 surveillance systems, including strategic use of genetic sequencing, by leveraging existing systems such as the Global Influenza Surveillance and Response System (GISRS) and relevant networks for systematic sharing of data and specimens.

Strengthening Health Systems

Provide strategic insight on how State Parties can sustain the public health infrastructure, capacities, and functions developed for COVID-19 response to support strengthened health systems and universal health coverage in the long-term...


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