Nearly two-and-a-half years after the start of the coronavirus pandemic, a highly contagious and contagious variant has arrived. Repetitive waves Covid-19 Millions died, and vaccines helped reduce the number of victims.
Now the virus is spreading again—evolving, evading immunity, and increasing cases and hospitalizations. The latest version of your format changer, BA.5, A clear sign that the epidemic is still far from over.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Omicron’s new branch, along with a closely related variant, BA.4, is driving a 30% global increase in cases in the past fortnight.
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Dr. Michael Ryan, executive director of the WHO’s Health Emergencies Programme, said the number could be higher, “close to collapse in testing”. BA.5 is gaining ground in China, raising concerns that major cities there may soon implement stricter lockdown measures.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the same variant accounted for 65% of new infections in the United States last week.
“We are seeing this virus evolve rapidly. We plan and prepare for this moment. And the message I want to convey to the American people is this: BA.5 is something we are monitoring closely and, more importantly, we know how to manage it,” said White House Covid-19 Response Coordinator Ashish Jha. A press conference on Tuesday.
On the same day, the WHO Emergency Committee declared Covid-19 a public health emergency of international concern – its highest alert level, first announced on 20 January 2020 – amid rising cases. .
In a report, the panel of independent experts highlighted challenges to the current global response to Covid-19, including a decline in testing and erratic genetic sequencing, raising the question of how accurately any country can track BA. .5.
Official data greatly underestimates the actual number of infections in the U.S., epidemiologists say, leaving the country with a critical blind spot as the highly contagious coronavirus variant still takes hold. Some experts think there could be 1 million new infections each day in the broader U.S. population — 10 times the official figure.
As for how to manage the new wave, Jha urged Americans 50 and older to get second boosters. Adults who are up-to-date on vaccinations are less likely to be hospitalized than those who are not vaccinated. But only one in four U.S. adults over age 50 received a second set of recommended boosters, according to data compiled by the CDC.
US health officials are rushing a plan to allow second Covid-19 boosters for all adults, amid fears that younger people’s immunity will wane as Covid-19 cases dominate, a senior White House official confirmed on Monday. BA.5.
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What sets BA.5 apart?
Eric Topol, a cardiologist and professor of molecular medicine at Scripps Research, called BA.5 “the worst version of the virus we’ve ever seen.” He explained in a recent newsletter: “This takes the already extensive immune evasion to the next level and, as a result, greater spread beyond previous versions of Omicron”.
In other words, BA.5 can easily evade immunity from previous infections and vaccinations, increasing the risk of reinfection. Although the variant does not lead to more serious disease, he said in an interview Monday that given the level of immune evasion of Topol BA.5, he expects an increase in hospitalizations, as we have seen in Europe and elsewhere. There the variation took root. “One good thing is that it doesn’t correlate with ICU admissions and deaths like the previous categories, but it’s definitely concerning,” he added.
Public health professionals in the United States can take comfort from the path of variation in Europe. The WHO’s Ryan said last week that while many European countries have seen an increase in hospitalizations, “what we’re not seeing is an increase in admissions to intensive care units, so vaccines are still working, and that’s causing gaps in immunity. The problem.”
However, sharp reductions in Covid-19 surveillance around the world have hampered epidemiologists’ efforts to track the evolution of the virus.
Sub-variants of Omicron, such as BA.4 and BA.5, are causing waves of cases, hospitalizations and deaths worldwide,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a news conference on Tuesday. “Surveillance – including testing and sequencing – has significantly reduced transmission, disease characteristics and This makes it difficult to assess the impact of variations on the effectiveness of countermeasures.”
“New waves of virus prove once again that Covid-19 [pandemia] It is not even close to the final stage,” he added.
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