Cases of COVID-19 globally have increased by 30% in just two weeks and in Europe, in particular, the BA.4 and BA.5 sub-variants of Omicron are responsible for this new wave of infections, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
In India, where the pandemic has caused more than half a million confirmed deaths, a new subvariant, called BA.2.75, has been detected, which experts are closely following, reports a dispatch from the agency EFE.
However, everything indicates that the rate of deaths from COVID-19 “has been decoupled” from the number of cases, which, although it has skyrocketed, has not caused a significant increase in hospitalizations in intensive care or deaths, it refers The OMS.
The general director of the organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said that this situation clearly highlights problems that his entity has been warning about for months, such as the sharp drop in diagnostic tests in many countries.
“This hides the true evolution of the virus and the real burden of COVID-19 cases in the world,” he commented, quoted by the Spanish media.
Another problem identified is that treatments on the market are not being administered soon enough to prevent serious cases and deaths. This is happening especially in poor countries, “where the new treatments, especially the new oral antivirals, are not reaching,” Tedros said.
Faced with this situation, the director stressed that risk groups should receive the booster vaccine. To the fact that each infection has an impact on the family and work circle —and on a larger scale on the economy of the countries—, the risk of suffering a long COVID is added.
According to the news release, Tedros asked the pharmaceutical company Pfizer to agree to collaborate with health organizations and countries so that its new antiviral is accessible soon.
The WHO believes that the new wave of COVID-19 that is beginning to be observed has its origin in people’s perception that this virus will become endemic and in the total relaxation of prevention measures with the arrival of summer in the hemisphere north.
“But it is not time to declare the end of the pandemic,” said WHO expert Abdi Maha, who assured that the disease can still cause a lot of damage and called for protecting the groups at greatest risk with easy measures, such as the use of a mask in closed spaces and in places where there are many people.
“We are not telling anyone that we have to go back to the lockdown, to the confinements, we have had two and a half difficult years, people want to return to normal life, but we ask the countries to protect the most vulnerable,” he pointed out, For his part, the director of Emergencies of the WHO, Mike Ryan, quoted by EFE.
Meanwhile, an investigation determined that the Ómicron variant has a high capacity to circumvent natural antibodies generated by a previous coronavirus infection, while vaccinated people show much greater resistance.
The study carried out jointly by the University of Geneva and the University Hospital of that Swiss city concluded that Ómicron has an “exceptional” ability to overcome the immunity naturally developed by the body after contracting other variants of the coronavirus, such as Delta, Alpha or Gamma, which Omicron has left out of the game by replacing them almost entirely, points out a report from EFE.
Another important finding of the study is that the capacity of this last variant to cause hospitalizations and deaths is very low when it comes to people who have been vaccinated against COVID-19, adds the Spanish agency.
The research team took blood samples from 120 vaccinated and unvaccinated volunteers between the ages of 28 and 52, who had been infected before or after receiving the vaccine.
The experts confirmed that vaccinated people have ten times more antibodies than those who developed immunity as a result of infection. The combination of natural antibodies and antibodies induced by vaccination, known as hybrid immunity, emerges as the most reliable barrier against the disease.
According to the authors, it is essential to maintain vigilance against the virus in the face of its “surprising capacity for mutation” and after the pronounced increase in cases that has been registered since the appearance of the Omicron BA.5 subvariant.
EFE / OnCuba