- WHO chief pointed out that it’s too soon to know whether these new sub-variants can cause more severe disease than other Omicron sub-variants.
Showing concerns regarding heavily-mutated Omicron, World Health Organisation chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus stressed even as BA.2 remains dominant in most parts of the world, sublineages BA.4 and BA.5 are driving a new surge in South Africa. He further cautioned, “In many countries we’re essentially blind to how the virus is mutating. We don’t know what’s coming next.”
The highly transmissible Omicron variant of Covid-19, which was first detected in southern Africa in November last year and rapidly spread globally, is now the dominant variant, accounting for almost all new cases. WHO‘s latest report showed that the sub-lineages “have acquired a few additional mutations that may impact their characteristics.”
Tedros on Wednesday pointed out that it’s “too soon to know whether these new sub-variants can cause more severe disease than other Omicron sub-variants.”
“However, early data suggest vaccination remains protective against severe disease and death.”
Cases and deaths reported are declining
The WHO has officially recorded more than 6.2 million Covid deaths worldwide since the start of the pandemic, but the true toll is believed to be far higher. However, the number of newly reported cases and deaths are now declining.
Global deaths due to Covid-19 have fallen to the lowest levels since March 2020, with about 15,000 fatalities last week, according to the WHO.
Though these trends are welcoming, the WHO chief said, “don’t tell the full story.” This could be a result of significant cuts in testing for the virus. He further pointed out that cases are rising in the Americas and Africa, “driven by Omicron sub-variants.”
“The BA.4 and BA.5 sub-variants were identified because South Africa is still doing the vital genetic sequencing that many other countries have stopped doing,” Tedros said adding, “In many countries, we’re essentially blind to how the virus is mutating.”
“The best way to protect people remains vaccination, alongside tried and tested public health and social measures,” Tedros insisted Wednesday.