COVID was no longer deemed a global health emergency by the WHO in May, but the organization has issued a warning that the virus will continue to spread and mutate, occasionally leading to an increase in infections, hospitalizations, and fatalities.
According to the UN agency’s weekly report, approximately 1.5 million new cases were reported worldwide between July 10 and August 6, an increase of 80% from the previous 28 days.
However, the number of fatalities decreased by 57% to 2,500.
The WHO issued a warning that, in part because countries do significantly less testing and surveillance than they did during previous stages of the pandemic, the stated number of cases and deaths does not accurately reflect the true numbers.
According to the WHO, the Western Pacific region had an increase in infections of 137%, where many of the new cases originated.
Recently, summer-related instances have increased in several Northern Hemisphere nations, including the United States, United Kingdom, France, and Japan.
According to experts, the surge may have been influenced by summertime events and travel, waning immunity, and a novel subvariant.
The Omicron subvariant EG.5 was classified as a “variant of interest” by the WHO on Wednesday as a result of a consistent increase in its occurrence.
EG.5 is thought to be a member of the XBB lineage of the virus and has been unofficially dubbed “Eris” online.
Due to a change in its spike protein, it appears to be more contagious than previous circulating types, and according to the WHO, it has demonstrated the ability to evade immunity.
However, there is no evidence that EG.5 results in more severe COVID symptoms, and the WHO rated the hazard it poses to public health as “low” when compared to that of other recent Omicron subvariants.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director of the WHO, cautioned that “the risk of a more dangerous variant emerging that could cause a sudden increase in cases and deaths” nevertheless remained.
Aurelien Rousseau, France’s minister of health, urged caution while reiterating that COVID levels are still low.
He told AFP in a statement that “We will have to live with the resurgence of this virus for several seasons to come.”
According to Antoine Flahault, head of the Institute of Global Health at the University of Geneva, “just about everywhere in the world” is still unsure about the exact state of the COVID problem.
He urged wastewater to be analyzed to look for virus trends, saying “Health authorities urgently need to reinstate a reliable COVID health monitoring system.”
The threat posed by COVID, notably protracted COVID, for which symptoms can continue for months or years, has been considerably reduced despite high levels of immunity from vaccination or earlier infection.
The WHO has advised nations to step up their vaccination campaigns.
Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, and Novavax, three pharmaceutical companies, are all working to update their COVID vaccines to target XBB subvariants.