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WHO: More COVID-19 Cases Reported in Past Month Than in First Six Months of Pandemic

FILE - Health care workers process people waiting in line at a United Memorial Medical Center COVID-19 testing site in Houston, Nov. 19, 2020.

The World Health Organization (WHO) Friday said more COVID-19 cases have been reported worldwide in the last four weeks than in the first six months of the pandemic.

In his regular news briefing from WHO headquarters in Geneva, Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said hospitals and intensive care units are filling up or full across Europe and the United States.

Tedros said it was good news this week that at least two vaccine candidates have shown to be effective in tests and one is near emergency approval and provides hope. But he stressed that people must continue to use the tools currently available to interrupt the chains of transmission and save lives.

The WHO director-general also introduced a new report published by the U.N. agency on antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in the world and ways to better control it. Antimicrobials include antibiotics and antivirals used in humans and animals, and pesticides used in agriculture.

The WHO said their misuse or overuse can lead to bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites developing a resistance to them over time, making medicines ineffective and infections harder to treat, and increasing the risk of disease spread, severe illness and death. Microorganisms that develop AMR are sometimes referred to as "superbugs."

Tedros said the COVID-19 pandemic is a stark reminder of the intimate relationship between humans, animals and the environment.

He said AMR may not seem as urgent as a pandemic, but it is just as dangerous, and threatens to unwind a century of medical progress, leaving people defenseless against infections that can be treated easily.

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