WHO warns ability to identify new Covid variants is diminishing as testing declines
The World Health Organization warned on Thursday that it is struggling to identify and track new strains of Covid-19 as governments scale back testing and surveillance, slowing progress in the fight against the virus. There is danger.
Maria von Kerkhof, of WHO Covid-19 Technical leadership said the virus was still circulating around the world at an “incredibly intense level”. The WHO is “deeply concerned” that it is developing at a time when there is no longer robust testing to help rapidly identify new types, von Kerkhof said.
“Our ability to track variants and subtypes around the world is decreasing because surveillance is decreasing,” von Kerkhof told reporters during an update in Geneva. “This limits our ability to evaluate known variants and subforms but also our ability to track and identify new ones.”
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned on Thursday that there was an “ever-present risk of more virulent forms emerging” as the virus spread and mutated. “The pandemic is not over but the end is in sight,” Tedros said, defying the president. Joe Biden’s Earlier this week, claims that the pandemic was over.
“We’ve spent two and a half years in a long dark tunnel and we’re just beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel, but it’s still a long way off and the tunnel is still dark with many obstacles to travel through. “If we don’t take care, we will go up,” Tedros said.
The WHO is currently monitoring about 200 omicron subtypes, von Kerkhof said. He said the World Health Organization is closely monitoring omicron BA.2.75, BF.7, and BA.4.6 other subtypes. These variants have begun to gain a foothold in countries such as the US where omicron BA.5, the fastest-spreading variant so far, has been dominant for months.
Von Kerkhoff said health officials have not yet been able to accurately predict how large the rate of Covid-19 will be from season to season. Some public health experts believe the virus will eventually behave like the flu, with waves of infections occurring in the fall and winter months.
“We don’t yet have a forecast for SARS-CoV-2 like we have for other types of pathogens where we expect the weather to be. We may be getting there, but we’re not there. That’s the message — we There aren’t any yet,” said von Kerkhoff.
Although the future is uncertain, Tedros said the world is in a “significantly better position” than any other place during the pandemic. Two-thirds of the world’s population has been vaccinated, including three-quarters of healthcare workers and the elderly, he said.
According to WHO data, weekly Covid deaths have continued to decline dramatically in all regions of the world and now account for 10% of the peak of the pandemic in January 2021. More than 9,800 people died from Covid-19 in the week ending September 18, a 17% drop from the previous week.
“In most countries, restrictions have been lifted and life looks like it did before the pandemic,” Tedros said. “But 10,000 deaths in one week is 10,000 too many when most of those deaths are preventable.”