The World Health Organization 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 virus continues to be circulating at an “incredibly intense level” all over the world. The WHO is “deeply concerned” 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 ability to track variants and subvariants around the world is diminishing because surveillance is declining,” Van Kerkhove advised reporters throughout an replace in Geneva. “That limits our ability to assess the known variants and subvariants but also our ability to track and identify new ones.”
WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Thursday warned there’s the “ever present risk of more dangerous variants emerging” because the virus continues to unfold and alter. Tedros mentioned “the pandemic is not over but the end is in sight,” contradicting U.S. President Joe Biden’s assertion earlier this week that the pandemic had ended.
“We have spent two-and-a-half years in a long dark tunnel and we’re just beginning to glimpse the light at the end of that tunnel, but it’s still a long way off and the tunnel is still dark with many obstacles that could trip us up if we don’t take care,” Tedros mentioned.
The WHO is at present monitoring about 200 omicron sublineages, Van Kerkhove mentioned. The international well being physique is protecting a detailed eye on omicron BA.2.75, BF.7, and BA.4.6 amongst different subvariants, she mentioned. Those variants have began to realize a foothold in nations such because the U.S. the place omicron BA.5, the quickest spreading variant but, has been dominant for months.
Health authorities nonetheless aren’t capable of precisely predict how massive Covid surges can be from season to season, Van Kerkhove mentioned. Some public well being consultants consider the virus will ultimately behave much like the flu, the place there are manageable waves of an infection in the course of the fall and winter months.
“We don’t yet have predictability with SARS-CoV-2 like we have other types of pathogens where we expect a seasonality. We may get there, but we’re not there that. That’s the message — we’re not there yet,” Van Kerkhove mentioned.
Though the long run is unsure, Tedros mentioned the world is in a considerably higher place in contrast with another level within the pandemic. Two-thirds of the world’s inhabitants is vaccinated, together with three-quarters of well being care employees and older individuals, he mentioned
Weekly Covid deaths have continued to say no dramatically throughout all areas of the world and at the moment are 10% of the pandemic’s peak in January 2021, in keeping with WHO information. More than 9,800 individuals died from Covid in the course of the week ending Sept. 18, down 17% from the prior week.
“We are in a significantly better position than we have ever been. In most countries restrictions have ended and life looks much like it did before the pandemic,” Tedros mentioned. “But 10,000 deaths a week is 10,000 too many when most of these deaths could be prevented.”