WHO urges countries to continue COVID-19 testing and monitoring as the virus remains a global pandemic
WHO urges countries to continue COVID-19 testing and monitoring as the virus remains a global pandemic

WHO urges countries to continue COVID-19 testing and monitoring as the virus remains a global pandemic

The World Health Organization said on Wednesday that it is increasingly concerned about the reduction in COVID-19 testing, surveillance and overall surveillance among its member countries, reminding the public that the virus is still circulating at high levels.

“COVID-19 remains a public health emergency of international concern and it is too early to reduce the quality of surveillance,” the agency said. in its weekly epidemiological update.

Data are becoming “progressively less representative, less timely and less robust” as many countries begin to behave as if the pandemic has reached an endemic phase where the virus is still present but no longer infects so many people that it overwhelms healthcare systems.

“Until we reach the end of the acute phase of the pandemic, countries must maintain adequate epidemiological surveillance to inform evidence-based operational decision-making on crucial parameters, including vaccination strategies, vaccine composition, use of therapeutics and tailored and appropriate public health and social measures,” the update said. .

The global inventory of new cases fell in the week to March 27, a welcome trend after rising in the previous two weeks. But deaths rose to more than 45,000, an increase of 43% from the week before, though that may be due to changes in who they are defined in some countries in America and Asia.

The WHO also offered another update on some of the recombinant variants of the virus, including one that has been unofficially named deltacron because it combines functions in the delta and omicron variants.

Last week, the agency assigned this variant the Pango pedigree XD, the system used to name and track variants as they emerge. It reiterated that so far there is no new evidence to suggest that XD is associated with higher transferability or more severe outcomes, but said it would continue to keep a close eye on it and other variants.

See: The U.S. average daily death toll from COVID drops below 800 to its lowest level since mid-August, and the FDA allows second booster shots for people 50 years and older

The news comes a day after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said BA.2 subvariant of omicron accounted for 55% of new cases in the week up to and including Saturday. The subvariant is more contagious than the original omicron, but does not appear to be more deadly.

The average number of deaths in the United States fell again after falling below 800 on Tuesday for the first time since omicron took off, according to a New York Times tracker.

The average death toll in seven days is 716, a decrease of 42% from two weeks ago.

New cases average 29,253, down 9% from two weeks ago, and admissions dropped 34% to an average of 17,464.

But cases have begun to rise again in states in the northeast and south, and the pace of improvement in places where they are declining has slowed.

What is an endemic and how do we know when Covid-19 will become one? WSJ’s Daniela Hernandez breaks down how public health experts assess when a virus like Covid-19 enters an endemic phase. Photo: Michael Nagle / Zuma Press

Other COVID-19 news you should know about:

• President Joe Biden will make comments later Wednesday on the rollout of a new website to offer Americans help accessing vaccines, tests, treatments and masks, according to a White House official. Biden will outline the infrastructure, tools and systems that the government has put in place to help the country fight COVID. Biden is also expected to urge Congress to secure the necessary funding for the next part of the program and highlight the risks if lawmakers fail to act.

• A sharp rise in COVID deaths during Hong Kong’s fifth wave has led to a shortage of coffins, It writes the South China Morning Post. In some cases, coffins are understood as being stolen or subject to confusion in funeral homes.

Barricades, panic attacks and empty streets are some scenes from Shanghai as China’s most populous city introduced a new lockdown. Offices and factories – including Teslas – were hit by China’s measures against the worst virus outbreak in two years. Photo: Aly Song / Reuters

• Adagio Therapeutics Inc.

said that its experimental COVID-19 monoclonal antibody acted as a treatment and for prevention before and after exposure in a phase 2/3 clinical trial. Adagio said it plans to seek approval from the Food and Drug Administration in the second quarter of this year. The drug, adintrevimab, was put into clinical trials before the advent of the omicron variant, the company said; However, Adagio noted that it then performed a pre-specified exploratory analysis among a group of participants in the pre-exposure cohort, and compared to placebo, “a clinically meaningful reduction in case of symptomatic COVID-19” was reported.

Look now: BioNTech reports skyrocketing earnings, revenue on COVID vaccine, plans $ 1.5 billion in buybacks

• CureVac

said it dosed the first participant in a Phase 1 clinical trial of the new mRNA COVID-19 vaccine, which it is developing with GlaxoSmithKline

The survey is conducted in the United States and should enroll 210 adults. The company said it expects to have data in the second half of this year. “Continued innovation and advances in the development of mRNA-based vaccines are a critical prerequisite for combating the evolving COVID-19 pandemic,” said Dr. Klaus Edvardsen, CureVac’s development manager, in a press release.

Here’s what the numbers say

The global inventory of confirmed cases of COVID-19 peaked at 485.4 million on Tuesday, while the death toll rose above 6.13 million, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

The United States is the world leader with 80 million cases and 978,693 killed.

That Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tracker shows that 217.5 million people living in the United States are fully vaccinated, corresponding to 65.5% of the population. But only 97.4 million are boosted, equivalent to 44.8% of the vaccinated population.

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