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CORONAVIRUS

The WHO predicts the next evolution of covid-19

A new report from the World Health Organization outlines three potential scenarios for the future of the pandemic and issues guidance for nations.

Update:
A new report from the World Health Organization outlines three potential scenarios for the future of the pandemic and issues guidance for nations.
DENIS BALIBOUSEREUTERS

Last week a statement released by the World Health Organization (WHO) outlined three possible scenarios for the next stages of the pandemic, suggesting that the severity of the virus is most likely to decrease over time.

Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus cautioned that there will likely be periodic spikes in both case numbers and deaths in the coming months and years, but struck a fairly positive tone in a press briefing.

“Based on what we know now, the most likely scenario is that the covid-19 virus continues to evolve, but the severity of disease it causes reduces over time as immunity increases due to vaccination and infection,” he said.

The other two scenarios outlined by the WHO were more extreme. Tedros said that it is possible that new less severe variants could emerge and usurp the Omicron variant, making the prospect of further booster vaccines unnecessary. Alternatively, a particularly dangerous variant could surpass some of the existing protections and bring about another major wave.

However he went on to say: “Striving to vaccinate 70% of the population of every country remains essential for bringing the pandemic under control, with priority given to health workers, older people and other at-risk groups.”

“Many high and middle-income countries have reached this target and have seen a decoupling between cases and deaths,” he reiterated

Case numbers are down but deaths are on the rise globally

The report published by the WHO last month not only looked at the potential next stage of the pandemic, but also gave some insight on the global picture as things stand now. The health agency had some mixed news with the number of covid-19 deaths recorded in the previous week up by around 40%, despite falling case numbers.

They report around 10 million new covid-19 infections and more than 45,000 deaths in the previous week, this after a 23% drop in fatalities the week before.

Despite the bleak headline figure, the increase may be explained as a feature of a change to the way that the data is collected. CBS News report that the large increase could partially be a result of new covid-19 death data practices across the Americas and new figures from India.

The report, the Strategic Preparedness, Readiness and Response Plan, also sets out principles for nations all around the world to aid their covid-9 response. It is the third such plan to be published by the WHO and Tedros suggested last week that it will likely be the last on this scale.

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