WHO concerned about corona subvariants and test decline

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In light of new coronavirus sub-variants, the World Health Organization (WHO) is concerned that countries are testing less. “We need to track this virus closely in every country,” WHO Emergency Director Mike Ryan said Wednesday in Geneva. He said the virus is constantly changing, and new developments must be detected as soon as possible. “We cannot afford to lose sight of the virus.” Meanwhile, the death toll is as low as it was in the early weeks of the pandemic.

It would be very short-sighted to think that the risk of infection has declined because of fewer reported infections. The WHO still lists Delta and Omicron as “variants of concern.” For Omicron, this includes several lineages, including the recently emerged BA.4 and BA.5, which have been detected in South Africa and some European countries, said WHO Covid 19 expert Maria van Kerkhove. Both had partly different characteristics from other omicron variants.

Specialists are investigating whether BA.4 and BA.5 spread faster than other virus lines, whether they differ from others in terms of disease progression, and how vaccines work against them. So far, there is no evidence that people infected with BA.4 or BA.5 have a more severe course of the disease, Van Kerkhove said. But according to her, only fewer than 200 sequencing reads of these subvariants have been uploaded to the WHO database. Van Kerkhove called on countries to continue closely monitoring the development of variants.

The number of deaths reported per week is falling worldwide, according to WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. On April 10, 22,000 deaths were reported in seven days, the fewest since the early weeks of the 2020 pandemic. Nevertheless, the international health emergency remains in place, echoing the recommendation of independent experts who had opposed lifting the “public health emergency of international concern” declared at the end of January 2020. The expert panel considers the infection situation every three months after an emergency is declared and advises the WHO.

Declaring an emergency is the highest alert level WHO can impose. It is intended to focus the world community on a dangerous problem and spur governments to take action. Countries are also required to report case numbers with it. When WHO declared the emergency on Jan. 30, 2020, about 100 known infections in 21 countries outside China. In the meantime, nearly 500 million infections and a good six million deaths have been reported to the WHO worldwide.

  • source: APA/picture: pixabay.comn
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