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The The World Health Organization warned on Thursday that the ability to track variants and subvariants of COVID-19 worldwide is declining due to declining surveillance rates.
“As surveillance decreases, the number of tests decreases, the number of sequences that are performed and transmitted decreases. And that limits our ability to assess known variants and sub-variants… but also our ability to track and identify new ones,” said Maria Van Kerhave, WHO’s technical lead for COVID. “So that’s why it’s so important that we continue surveillance.”
Speaking at a media briefing, Van Kerchow told reporters that ending the pandemic is an attempt to reduce the spread of the infection.
“The more this virus spreads, the more opportunities it has to change. And this is what deeply worries us,” she said.
Although omicron dominates the world, the agency currently tracking 200 coronavirus substrings.
Van Kerchow said the WHO is working with member states to “fine-tune” the response to the virus as the world is still at risk for future options.
“We expect future options to be more transferable. We expect that future variants will potentially have greater immunity, which may make some of our countermeasures less effective than they are now. But we don’t know if future versions will be more effective. or less serious, she said later.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that although the pandemic is not over, its end is “in sight”.
“Yes, we are in a better position than ever before weekly number of deaths from COVID-19 continues to decline and is now only 10% of what it was at its peak in January 2021,” he said.
“But 10,000 deaths a week is 10,000 too many when most of those deaths could be prevented,” Tedros said.
Van Kerhave said that while “we’re not there yet,” WHO is 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 policies in place to make the most effective use of them.”