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The World Health Organization warned Thursday that the ability to track COVID-19 variants and subvariants all over the world is lowering due to lowering 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.”
Speaking at a media briefing, Van Kerkhove instructed reporters that a part of ending the pandemic is making an attempt to cut 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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Van Kerkhove mentioned the WHO is working with member states to “right-size” the response to the virus, as the world continues to be in danger for future variants.
“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.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus mentioned that whereas the pandemic shouldn’t be over, the top 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 acknowledged.
“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 could be very hopeful.
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“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.”