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WHO warns potential 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 combat towards the virus.

Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO’s Covid-19 technical lead, mentioned 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 is no such thing as a longer sturdy testing in place to assist quickly determine new variants, Van Kerkhove mentioned.

“Our potential to trace variants and subvariants all over the world is diminishing as a result of surveillance is declining,” Van Kerkhove instructed reporters throughout an replace in Geneva. “That limits our potential to evaluate the identified variants and subvariants but additionally our potential to trace and determine new ones.”

WHO Director-Normal Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Thursday warned there’s the “ever current danger of extra harmful variants rising” because the virus continues to unfold and alter. Tedros mentioned “the pandemic shouldn’t be over however the finish is in sight,” contradicting President Joe Biden’s assertion earlier this week that the pandemic had ended.

“We have now spent two and a half years in a protracted darkish tunnel and we’re simply starting to glimpse the sunshine on the finish of that tunnel, however it’s nonetheless a great distance off and the tunnel continues to be darkish with many obstacles that would journey us up if we do not take care,” Tedros mentioned.

The WHO is at present 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 nations such because the US the place omicron BA.5, the quickest spreading variant but, has been dominant for months.

Well being authorities nonetheless aren’t capable of precisely predict how huge Covid surges can be from season to season, Van Kerkhove mentioned. Some public well being specialists imagine the virus will finally behave much 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 we have now different sorts 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 mentioned.

Although the long run is unsure, Tedros mentioned 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 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 accordance with WHO knowledge. Greater than 9,800 individuals died from Covid through the week ended Sept. 18, down 17% from the prior week.

“In most nations, restrictions have ended and life seems very like it did earlier than the pandemic,” Tedros mentioned. “However 10,000 deaths every week is 10,000 too many when most of those deaths may very well be prevented.”

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