WHO warns skill to determine new Covid variants is diminishing
The World Well being Group on Thursday warned that it’s struggling to determine and monitor new Covid variants as governments roll again testing and surveillance, threatening the progress made within the struggle in opposition to the virus.
Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO’s Covid-19 technical lead, mentioned the virus remains to be circulating at an “extremely intense stage” around the globe. The WHO is “deeply involved” that it’s evolving at a time when there is no such thing as a longer strong testing in place to assist quickly determine new variants, Van Kerkhove mentioned.
“Our skill to trace variants and subvariants around the globe is diminishing as a result of surveillance is declining,” Van Kerkhove informed reporters throughout an replace in Geneva. “That limits our skill to evaluate the identified variants and subvariants but additionally our skill to trace and determine new ones.”
WHO Director-Basic Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Thursday warned there’s the “ever current threat of extra harmful variants rising” because the virus continues to unfold and alter. Tedros mentioned “the pandemic isn’t over however the finish is in sight,” contradicting President Joe Biden’s assertion earlier this week that the pandemic had ended.
“We now have spent two and a half years in an extended darkish tunnel and we’re simply starting to glimpse the sunshine on the finish of that tunnel, but it surely’s nonetheless a good distance off and the tunnel remains to be darkish with many obstacles that would journey us up if we do not take care,” Tedros mentioned.
The WHO is at the moment monitoring about 200 omicron sublineages, Van Kerkhove mentioned. The worldwide well being physique is conserving an in depth eye on omicron BA.2.75, BF.7, and BA.4.6 amongst different subvariants, she mentioned. These variants have began to achieve a foothold in international locations such because the U.S. the place omicron BA.5, the quickest spreading variant but, has been dominant for months.
Well being authorities nonetheless aren’t in a position to precisely predict how huge Covid surges might be from season to season, Van Kerkhove mentioned. Some public well being consultants imagine the virus will finally behave much like the flu, the place there are manageable waves of an infection throughout the fall and winter months.
“We do not but have predictability with SARS-CoV-2 like we’ve different sorts of pathogens the place we count on a seasonality. We could get there, however we’re not there that. That is the message — we’re not there but,” Van Kerkhove mentioned.
Although the longer term is unsure, Tedros mentioned the world is in a “considerably higher place” than at every other level throughout the pandemic. Two-thirds of the world’s inhabitants is vaccinated, together with three-quarters of well being care staff and older individuals, he mentioned.
Weekly Covid deaths have continued to say no dramatically throughout all areas of the world and are actually 10% of the pandemic’s peak in January 2021, based on WHO information. Greater than 9,800 individuals died from Covid throughout the week ended Sept. 18, down 17% from the prior week.
“In most international locations, restrictions have ended and life seems to be very similar to it did earlier than the pandemic,” Tedros mentioned. “However 10,000 deaths per week is 10,000 too many when most of those deaths may very well be prevented.”