WHO says ability to track COVID variants diminishing as surveillance declines
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The The World Health Organization warned Thursday The ability to track COVID-19 variants and sub-variables around the world is decreasing due to declining surveillance.
“With less surveillance, the number of tests decreases, and the number of sequences that are performed and that are shared decreases. This limits our ability to assess known variants and sub-variables … but also our ability to track and identify new ones,” said Maria van Kerkhove, WHO technical lead on COVID. “So, that is why it is really important that we continue with our surveillance activities.”
Speaking at a briefing, Van Kerkhove told reporters that part of ending the pandemic is trying to limit the spread of infection.
“The more this virus spreads, the greater the chances of it changing. And that’s something we are deeply concerned about,” she said.
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Van Kerkhove said the World Health Organization is working with member states to “quantify the correct scale” of the response to the virus, as the world remains at risk from future variables.
“We expect future variants to be more transmissible. We expect future variants to have more immune escape, which may make some of our countermeasures not as effective as they are now. But, we don’t know if future variants will be more or less severe,” she later said. .
The Director-General of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said that although the epidemic was not over, the end was “in sight”.
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“Yes, we are in a better position than we have ever been before Weekly number of COVID-19 deaths It continues to decline, and is now only 10% of what it was at its peak in January 2021.”
Tedros noted that “10,000 deaths a week is a very high number of 10,000, most of these deaths could be prevented.”
Van Kerkhove said that while “we are not there yet,” the WHO is very optimistic.
“The reason for hope is that we have a lot of tools,” she said. “We just need to make sure that all countries have access to it and that all countries have the policies in place to use it most effectively.”