Misinformation that Omicron is ‘the last COVID-19 variant’ fuelling uptick worldwide: WHO

“After a number of weeks of declines, reported circumstances of COVID-19 are as soon as once more rising globally, particularly in components of Asia”, WHO Director-Basic Tedros Adhanom Gebreyesus informed journalists in Geneva.

 Previously week, the company has seen an 8 per cent improve in detection of COVID-19 circumstances, with greater than 11 million constructive take a look at outcomes.

“These will increase are occurring regardless of reductions in testing in some international locations, which implies the circumstances we’re seeing are simply the tip of the iceberg”, Tedros defined, warning that when circumstances tick up, so do deaths.

He added that continued native outbreaks and surges are to be anticipated, significantly in areas the place measures to forestall transmission have been lifted, however that there are ‘unacceptably excessive’ ranges of mortality in lots of international locations, particularly the place vaccination ranges are low amongst vulnerable populations.

“Every nation is going through a distinct state of affairs with totally different challenges, however the pandemic is just not over”, he reiterated.

WHO/Nana Kofi Acquah

The World Well being Group helps international locations enhance testing capability for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

A mix of things

WHO’s Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove defined {that a} mixture of things is fuelling the rise of circumstances worldwide, starting with a extra transmissible variant.

“We nonetheless have Omicron which is transmitting at a really intense stage around the globe. Now we have sub-lineages of Omicron BA.1 and BA.2. BA.2 is extra transmissible, and that is the most transmissible variant we’ve seen of the SARS-COV2 virus so far”, she warned.

The COVID-19 Technical Lead knowledgeable that within the final 30 days of greater than 400,000 sequences sampled, 99.9% are Omicron, and 75% correspond to the BA.2 variant.

“We don’t see a rise in severity with BA.2. Nevertheless, with enormous numbers of circumstances you will note improve hospitalisations and we’ve seen this in nation after nation”, Dr. Van Kerkhove highlighted.

 One other issue influencing the rise of numbers is the lifting of public well being and social measures.

“Lifting of the usage of masks, lifting of bodily distancing, lifting of restrictions limiting folks’s motion, this gives the virus a possibility to unfold”, Dr. Van Kerkhove cautioned.

The professional additionally identified that there are ‘enormous quantities of misinformation’ inflicting a number of confusion amongst folks.

 “The misinformation that Omicron is delicate, misinformation that the pandemic is over, misinformation that that is the final variant that we must cope with”, she defined.

People wear face masks during the COVID-19 pandemic in Medellín, Colombia.

IMF Photograph/Joaquin Sarmiento

Individuals put on face masks throughout the COVID-19 pandemic in Medellín, Colombia.

The virus has ‘not settled down’

In the meantime, Dr Mike Ryan, WHO’s Govt Director of the Well being Emergencies Programme clarified that the virus has not ‘settled down’ right into a purely seasonal or predictable sample but.

“So, the concept ‘we’re by with it’ within the northern hemisphere and now we’ve to attend till subsequent winter, I believe (for instance) once we have a look at rising charges within the UK, we have to be very vigilant and cautious with this”, he stated.

The professional added that the virus continues to be ‘very match’ and it’s shifting round simply and within the context of waning immunity and vaccines not performing completely in opposition to an infection, the virus will probably proceed to echo around the globe.

“It will likely be excessive in some components generally after which transfer and be increased once more, it is going to transfer to a different space the place immunity is waning. The virus will decide up pockets of susceptibility, and we’ll survive on these pockets for months till one other pocket opens.

“That is how viruses work.  They set up themselves in a group and they’re going to transfer rapidly to the subsequent group that’s unprotected”, he additional defined saying that consultants have seen comparable patterns with the polio virus.

“We fully perceive that the world wants to maneuver on and needs to maneuver on from COVID-19 however this virus spreads very effectively between folks and if we don’t have the proper interventions in place the virus will take alternatives to proceed to unfold, and the extra the virus spreads the extra alternatives it has to alter”, Dr. Van Kerkhove added.

A medical worker discards a used COVID vaccine syringe into a container.

© UNICEF/Vinay Panjwani

A medical employee discards a used COVID vaccine syringe right into a container.

Vaccination and vigilance

Each medical doctors and WHO chief Tedros additionally spoke concerning the significance of vaccination stating that almost all of deaths stay amongst the unvaccinated, and older people and other people with underlying situations who haven’t acquired the total course of efficient vaccines.

“We have to reinstate the significance of vaccination in each nation. This isn’t only a North-South challenge. Each nation must look once more at vaccination ranges on probably the most weak whether or not utilizing booster insurance policies or not and make sure that on the very minimal each particular person who’s weak has two doses of efficient vaccines”, Dr. Ryan urged.

Dr. Van Kerkhove defined that the information reveals that COVID-19 vaccines stay ‘extremely’ efficient to forestall extreme illness and demise, together with in opposition to Omicron.

She added that the world additionally wants a really robust surveillance system for COVID-19 to concentrate on how the virus is evolving.

“Regardless of the entire challenges that we face, we nonetheless want to keep up testing, we nonetheless want to keep up sturdy sequencing and ensuring that we’ve geographic illustration of the sequences which might be shared”, she underscored.

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