WHO says potential to trace COVID variants diminishing as surveillance declines

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The World Well being Group warned Thursday that the flexibility to trace COVID-19 variants and subvariants world wide is lowering on account of declining surveillance. 

 “With surveillance declining, the number of tests are declining, the numbers of sequences that are being conducted and being shared are declining. And, that limits our ability to assess the known variants and subvariants… but also our ability to track and to identify new ones,” mentioned Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO’s COVID technical lead. “So, this is why it’s really important that we keep surveillance activities up.”

Talking at a media briefing, Van Kerkhove instructed reporters that a part of ending the pandemic is attempting to scale back the unfold of transmission. 

“The more this virus circulates, the more opportunities it has to change. And, this is something we are deeply concerned about,” she mentioned.

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In this photo illustration, the World Health Organization (WHO) logo is seen displayed on an android mobile phone with a COVID illustration in the background. 

On this photograph illustration, the World Well being Group (WHO) brand is seen displayed on an android cell phone with a COVID illustration within the background. 
(Photograph Illustration by Avishek Das/SOPA Photographs/LightRocket through Getty Photographs)

Whereas omicron is dominant worldwide, the company is at present monitoring 200 coronavirus sublineages.

Van Kerkhove mentioned the WHO is working with member states to “right-size” the response to the virus, because the world remains to be in danger for future variants. 

World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus attends a ceremony to launch a multiyear partnership with Qatar on making FIFA Football World Cup 2022 and mega sporting events healthy and safe at the WHO headquarters in Geneva on October 18, 2021. 

World Well being Group (WHO) Director-Common Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus attends a ceremony to launch a multiyear partnership with Qatar on making FIFA Soccer World Cup 2022 and mega sporting occasions wholesome and protected on the WHO headquarters in Geneva on October 18, 2021. 
(Photograph by FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP through Getty Photographs)

“We expect future variants to be more transmissible. We expect future variants to potentially have more immune escape, which may render some of our countermeasures not as effective as they are right now. But, we don’t know if future variants will be more or less severe,” she mentioned later. 

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WHO Director-Common Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus mentioned that whereas the pandemic isn’t over, the tip is “in sight.” 

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“Yes, we’re in a better position than we’ve ever been. The number of weekly COVID-19 deaths continues to decline, and are now just 10% of what they were at the peak in January 2021,” he said. 

World Health Organization's technical lead on the coronavirus pandemic, Maria van Kerkhove gestures during an interview with AFP in Geneva on October 13, 2020. 

World Well being Group’s technical lead on the coronavirus pandemic, Maria van Kerkhove gestures throughout an interview with AFP in Geneva on October 13, 2020. 
(Photograph by RICHARD JUILLIART/AFP through Getty Photographs)

“But, 10,000 deaths a week is 10,000 too many, when most of these deaths could be prevented,” Tedros famous. 

Van Kerkhove mentioned that whereas “we’re not there yet,” the WHO may be very hopeful. 

“The reason we’re hopeful is because we have so many tools,” she continued. “We just need to make sure that all countries have access to them and that all countries have the policies in place to use them most effectively.”

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