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“We’re playing with fire,” warns WHO Covid-19 Chief as infections multiply across the globe

“The number of sequences that have been shared that we can analyze has dropped precipitously. And we’re looking at very very few sequences right now,” Kerkhove said.

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Kerkhove informed that Omicron is dominant worldwide and it's mostly BA.2 variant that is being detected around the world. (Image Source: Reuters)

Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, the Technical Lead on Covid-19 at the World Health Organisation, has warned the public that there is a large amount of (Covid-19) circulation around the world and a significant drop in surveillance data amidst the number of rising cases, has become a serious cause of concern. She stressed that the challenge right now is to strengthen the ability to track the virus which is based on data that is available from around the world. This data comes from surveillance activities, identifying cases, testing, and a subset of those tests being sequenced. “The number of sequences that have been shared that we can analyze has dropped precipitously. And we’re looking at very very few sequences right now,” Kerkhove said.

She added that the data is very helpful for scientists and public health professionals to be able to track which variants are circulating where. So that they can work with partners around the world to assess what they are doing in terms of transmission, severity, and also what’s the public health impact of the circulation of these sub lineages? And also to check if the countermeasures still work.

Kerkhove informed that Omicron is dominant worldwide and it’s mostly BA.2 variant that is being detected around the world. There are also increasing cases of BA.4 and BA.5. The US is currently witnessing a surge of BA.2.12.1 cases.  “We are worried about further evolution. This will not be the last variant that we will be discussing here. So we need to be able to track that and we need the systems in place. We need governments to maintain surveillance, enhance surveillance, make sure that sequencing is taking place so that experts from around the world can bring that data together and discuss it comprehensively,” Kerkhove said.

With the rising number of Coronavirus cases worldwide, it has become extremely important for governments to take strict measures to ensure thorough testing and sequencing. If there is no proper reportage of the data collected, the ability to track the virus will weaken and we might be staring at another wave soon. 

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