WHO warns capacity 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, stated the virus continues to be circulating at an “extremely intense degree” all over the world. The WHO is “deeply involved” that it’s evolving at a time when there isn’t any longer sturdy testing in place to assist quickly determine new variants, Van Kerkhove stated.
“Our capacity to trace variants and subvariants all over the world is diminishing as a result of surveillance is declining,” Van Kerkhove advised reporters throughout an replace in Geneva. “That limits our capacity to evaluate the identified variants and subvariants but additionally our capacity to trace and determine new ones.”
WHO Director-Common 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 stated “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.
“Now we 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, nevertheless it’s nonetheless a great distance off and the tunnel continues to be darkish with many obstacles that might journey us up if we do not take care,” Tedros stated.
The WHO is at present monitoring about 200 omicron sublineages, Van Kerkhove stated. The worldwide well being physique is maintaining a detailed eye on omicron BA.2.75, BF.7, and BA.4.6 amongst different subvariants, she stated. 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 large Covid surges can be from season to season, Van Kerkhove stated. Some public well being specialists imagine the virus will finally behave just like the flu, the place there are manageable waves of an infection through the fall and winter months.
“We do not but have predictability with SARS-CoV-2 like now we have different varieties of pathogens the place we anticipate a seasonality. We might get there, however we’re not there that. That is the message — we’re not there but,” Van Kerkhove stated.
Although the longer term is unsure, Tedros stated the world is in a “considerably higher place” than at another level through the pandemic. Two-thirds of the world’s inhabitants is vaccinated, together with three-quarters of well being care staff and older folks, he stated.
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 knowledge. Greater than 9,800 folks died from Covid through the week ended Sept. 18, down 17% from the prior week.
“In most international locations, restrictions have ended and life seems to be very like it did earlier than the pandemic,” Tedros stated. “However 10,000 deaths per week is 10,000 too many when most of those deaths could possibly be prevented.”