WHO urges countries to continue COVID-19 testing and surveillance as the virus is still a global pandemic

The World Health Organization on Wednesday said it was increasingly concerned about the reduction in COVID-19 testing, surveillance and overall surveillance in 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 lower the quality of surveillance,” the agency said in its weekly epidemiological update.

The data is becoming “less and less representative, less timely and less robust” as many countries act as if the pandemic has reached an endemic phase, where the virus is still present but is no longer infecting as many people, that it overwhelms the health care systems.

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

The global number of new cases fell in the week ended March 27, a welcome trend after rising for the previous two weeks. However, the number of deaths rose to more than 45,000, up 43% from the week before, although this may reflect changes in the definition in some countries in the Americas and Asia.

The WHO also offered another update on some of the recombinant variants of the virus, including one unofficially named Deltacron because it combines features of the Delta and Omicron variants.

Just last week, the agency assigned this variant the pango line designation XD, the system used to name and track variants as they emerge. It reiterated that for the time being there is no new evidence that XD is linked to higher portability or more serious consequences, but said it will continue to keep a close eye on this and other variants.

See: Average daily deaths from COVID in the US fall below 800 to the lowest level since mid-August, and the FDA is allowing a second booster shot for people 50 and older

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

The average number of deaths in the US has fallen again after falling below 800 on Tuesday for the first time since omicron was launched. according to a New York Times tracker.

The seven-day average death toll is 716, down 42% from two weeks ago.

New cases average 29,253, down 9% from two weeks ago, and hospital admissions are down 34%, averaging 17,464.

However, cases have picked up again in Northeast and South states, and the pace of improvement in places where they are declining has slowed.

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

Other COVID-19 news you should know:

• President Joe Biden will make comments later Wednesday on the launch of a new website to offer help for Americans to access vaccines, tests, treatments and masks, according to a White House official. Biden will outline the infrastructure, tools and systems the government has put in place to help the country fight COVID. Biden is also expected to ask Congress to secure the funds needed for the next part of the program and outline the risks if lawmakers don’t act.

• A sharp spike in COVID deaths during Hong Kong’s fifth wave has led to a shortage of coffins. The South China Morning Post reported. In some cases, coffins are believed to have been stolen or the subject of mix-ups at funeral homes.

Barricades, panic buying and empty streets are some scenes from Shanghai as China’s most populous city imposed a new lockdown. Offices and factories – including those of Tesla – have been hit by China’s response to the worst virus outbreak in two years. Photo: Aly Song/Reuters

• Adagio Therapeutics Inc. ADGI,
+47.14%
said its experimental COVID-19 monoclonal antibody worked as a treatment and for pre- and post-exposure prophylaxis in a phase 2/3 clinical trial. Adagio said it plans to apply for Food and Drug Administration approval in the second quarter of this year. The drug, Adintrevimab, was put into clinical trials before the Omicron variant emerged, 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 reported “a clinically meaningful reduction in cases of symptomatic COVID-19” compared to placebo.

See now: BioNTech Announces Soaring Profits, COVID Vaccine Revenue and Plans $1.5 Billion Buybacks

• CureVac CVAC,
+1.20%
said it dosed the first participant in a phase 1 clinical trial for the new mRNA COVID-19 vaccine it is developing with GlaxoSmithKline GSK.
+1.09%

GSK,
+0.06%.
The study will be conducted in the United States and is expected to enroll 210 adults. The company said it expects data in the second half of this year. “Continued innovation and advances in the development of mRNA-based vaccines are critical to combating the evolving COVID-19 pandemic,” said Dr. Klaus Edvardsen, CureVac’s Chief Development Officer, in a press release.

Here’s what the numbers say

The global number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 surpassed 485.4 million on Tuesday, while the death toll rose to over 6.13 million. based on data from Johns Hopkins University.

The US leads the world with 80 million cases and 978,693 deaths.

the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tracker shows that 217.5 million people in the US are fully vaccinated, which is 65.5% of the population. But only 97.4 million are vaccinated, which is 44.8% of the vaccinated population.

https://www.marketwatch.com/story/who-urges-countries-to-keep-up-covid-19-testing-and-surveillance-as-the-virus-is-still-a-global-pandemic-11648651189?rss=1&siteid=rss WHO urges countries to continue COVID-19 testing and surveillance as the virus is still a global pandemic

Brian Lowry

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