Pandemic turning point as weekly deaths reach March 2020 low

Nearly 6.5 million people have died worldwide in the past two-and-a-half years of the pandemic, but on Wednesday, some encouraging news came from the World Health Organization in Geneva that the world might be reaching a turning point.

"Last week, the number of weekly reported deaths from COVID-19 was the lowest since March 2020," said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

WHO data shows 2,812 people died of COVID during the week ending September 9, 2022. The world has not seen a level that low since the week of March 9, 2020 at the beginning of the pandemic when there were 2,743 weekly COVID deaths.

"We have never been in a better position to end the pandemic. We’re not there yet, but the end is in sight," said Ghebreyesus.

"It's not a clear line where we pass from pandemic to no pandemic because COVID is with us and it will be with us for the future," said Dr. Michael Stacey, Chief Medical Officer of Lifelong Medical Care which runs community clinics in the San Francisco Bay Area. 

Dr. Stacey says one positive factor is that the broad number of people getting vaccinated and having mild infections has seemed to have an impact on this last omicron spike.

"The number of hospitalizations and definitely the number of deaths did not get up to the level that we had seen in previous surges," said Dr. Stacey.

Health officials now are urging people to stay vigilant and are making another big push to get people vaccinated and boosted.

"I have three boys and one girl. And they got shots? Yes everybody," said Lawson Pauline Hellu, El Cerrito.

Many Bay Area clinics have been getting shipments of the latest omicron-targeted booster shot.

"I haven't been able to get it, but I have the other three, the Moderna one and two and then the booster shot," said Felice Ligones, a Berkeley resident.

Experts say the omicron booster provides important protection going into the fall and winter months. as people begin to mingle more at schools and indoors.

"Indoors, I'm still nervous about it. i mean people are still dying from it," said Gary Levy, a Richmond resident who says he still wears masks when he goes out and plans to get the omicron booster shot.

"The more people we get vaccinated, the less transmissions there are. The less transitions there are, the less opportunities there are for mutations," said Dr. Stacey.

To make an appointment for a COVID-19 booster shot you can go to the website: 

Jana Katsuyama is a reporter for KTVU.  Email Jana at and follow her on Twitter @JanaKTVU or Facebook @NewsJana or