Sunday 24 September 2023

WHO warns of new “more dangerous” covid-19 variants

"The pandemic is far from over," underlined the experts, in charge of advising the WHO director general

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(AFP) The Emergency Committee of the World Health Organization (WHO) warned this Thursday of the “strong probability” that new variants of the coronavirus will emerge, which would be “more dangerous”, largely driven by the virulent Delta strain.

“The pandemic is far from over,” underline the experts, charged with advising the WHO director-general. “There is a strong probability that new, worrying variants will emerge and be transmitted, possibly more dangerous and more difficult to control” than those already registered, they added.

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“Recent trends are unsettling. Eighteen months after the international public health emergency was declared, we continue to run after the coronavirus,” the president of this committee, Frenchman Didier Houssin, underlined at a press conference.

So far, the WHO has identified four variants that can be called disturbing: Alpha, Beta, Gamma and Delta. The latter, isolated for the first time in India, is spreading at high speed throughout the world causing a strong rebound in the pandemic, because it is much more contagious than the others and shows a little more resistance to vaccines, although they continue to protect in the most serious cases of covid-19.

Houssin outlined two main recommendations: defend equitable access to vaccines and not take initiatives that are not scientifically justified, such as a third dose, as proposed in particular by the Pfizer and BioNTech group.

“We must continue to tirelessly defend the equitable access and distribution of vaccines around the world, promoting the exchange of doses, production at the local level, the liberation of intellectual property rights, as well as the transfer of technology, the increase of the production capacity and, of course, the financing necessary to achieve all this ”, Houssin listed.

Inequality in access to vaccines has been denounced for months by the WHO, the NGOs and the countries that suffer from it. When the United States or the European Union (EU) intend to vaccinate the vast majority of their populations in the coming weeks, the most disadvantaged countries manage to protect only 1% of theirs.

What is the current COVID-19 trend in my country?

Based on the newly reported case numbers — which can reflect local outbreaks as well as the countrywide spread — in the past 28 days, countries and territories classify as follows:

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More than twice as many new cases:

  • Asia: Azerbaijan, Myanmar, Cyprus, Indonesia, Israel, Kazakhstan, Laos, Lebanon, Tajikistan, Vietnam
  • Africa: Eswatini, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Libya, Malawi, Mauritania, Morocco, Mozambique, Nigeria, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Zimbabwe
  • Americas: Barbados, Cuba
  • Europe: Albania, Andorra, Belgium, Denmark, France, Greece, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland
  • Oceania: Australia, Fiji, New Zealand

More new cases:

  • Asia: Armenia, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, China, Georgia, Iran, Iraq, Japan, Jordan, South Korea, Kyrgyzstan, Malaysia, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Thailand, Uzbekistan
  • Africa: Algeria, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Comoros, Ivory Coast, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea, Lesotho, Madagascar, Niger, Rwanda, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Togo, Tunisia
  • Americas: Bahamas, Belize, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Saint Lucia, United States of America
  • Europe: Austria, Belarus, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Portugal, Russia, Serbia, Slovenia, Ukraine, United Kingdom

About the same number of new cases (no change or plus/minus 2%):  

  • Asia: Turkey
  • Africa: Chad, Djibouti, Mali
  • Americas: Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica
  • Europe: San Marino
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Fewer new cases:

  • Asia: Afghanistan, India, Kuwait, Maldives, Mongolia, Nepal, Oman, Philippines, Qatar, Sri Lanka, Timor Leste, United Arab Emirates, Palestinian territories, Yemen
  • Africa: Angola, Benin, Burundi, Cape Verde, Cameroon, Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Gabon, Kenya, Liberia, Mauritius, Namibia, Seychelles, South Sudan, Uganda, Zambia
  • Americas: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Venezuela
  • Europe: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Hungary, Latvia, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Sweden
  • Oceania: Papua New Guinea

Less than half as many new cases:

  • Asia: Bahrain, Syria, Taiwan
  • Africa: Central African Republic, Egypt, Eritrea, Sierra Leone
  • Americas: Haiti, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Uruguay
  • Europe: Kosovo

Zero new cases:

  • Americas: Grenada
  • Europe: Vatican, Iceland
  • Oceania: Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu

If you have questions regarding the analysis, please refer to the project’s Github repository for code and methodology.


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