The COVID-19 pandemic may be over, but the virus responsible for it remains a threat, warned the chief of the World Health Organization (WHO) in a new United Nations (UN) update.

On Monday, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus spoke in Geneva, urging countries to strengthen their response capacities against COVID-19 and prepare for future threats and pandemics.

"The end of COVID-19 as a global health emergency is not the end of COVID-19 as a global health threat," Tedros said while delivering his report to the 76th World Health Assembly, the UN's decision-making body.

According to the WHO chief, there is still a threat for new surges to emerge as newer variants arrive. Furthermore, new pathogens deadlier than COVID could also surface out of the blue.

"The threat of another variant emerging that causes new surges of disease and death remains, and the threat of another pathogen emerging with even deadlier potential remains," he added.

Tedros pointed out that "pandemics are far from the only threat we face." Hence, global efforts addressing emergencies of all kinds should be strengthened for mankind to be always prepared for newer crises.

"When the next pandemic comes knocking — and it will — we must be ready to answer decisively, collectively and equitably," he said.

This was not the first time the WHO chief warned of COVID-19 remaining a public health issue. On May 5, though he announced that the pandemic was over, he admitted that the novel coronavirus would remain a global threat as the virus continues to mutate and spread.

The organization maintained that to stay protected people should be up to date with their COVID-19 vaccines and boosters. But last week, the WHO issued a statement on the antigen composition of newer vaccines, saying they should no longer target the original SARS-CoV-2 strain.

According to the WHO's Technical Advisory Group on COVID-19 Vaccine Composition (TAG-CO-VAC), the index virus and other earlier strains are no longer circulating in humans, so there is no need for the vaccine formulations to target them.