At a press briefing Director-General of the World Health Organisation (WHO), General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said that a new variant named BA.2.75 which falls under the family of Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 has been detected in countries like India. In a statement addressing the media, Mr Ghebreyesus said, “On COVID-19, globally reported cases have increased nearly 30 per cent over the past two weeks. Four out of six of the WHO sub-regions saw cases increase in the last week.”
The new variant BA.2.75, being from the similar family of Omicron variants in Europe and America, he said, “In Europe and America, BA.4 and BA.5 are driving waves. In countries like India, a new sub-lineage of BA.2.75 has also been detected, which we’re following.”
However, alongside this statement, regards to the emergence of the potential Omicron sub-variant BA.2.75; Soumya Swaminathan, Chief Scientist, WHO, in her video address on Twitter said that there has been an emergence of a sub-variant that is being called the BA.2.75 “first reported from India and then from about 10 other countries.” She said there are still limited sequences available of the sub-variant to analyse, “but this sub-variant seems to have a few mutations on the receptor-binding domain of the spike protein. So obviously, that’s a key part of the virus that attaches itself to the human receptor. So, we have to watch that. It’s still too early to know if this sub-variant has properties of additional immune evasion or indeed of being more clinically severe. We don’t know that.” “So we have to wait and see,” she said, adding that WHO is keeping a close watch on it.
— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) July 5, 2022
According to the WHO weekly epidemiological update on COVID-19, which was released on July 6, confirmed that globally, the number of new weekly cases increased for the fourth consecutive week after a declining trend compared with the last peak in March 2022. The update also stated that during the week of June 27 to July 3, over 4.6 million cases were reported, a figure similar to that of the previous week. The number of new weekly deaths declined by 12% as compared to the previous week, with over 8100 deaths reported. The WHO update also confirmed that as of July 3, 2022, over 546 million confirmed COVID19 cases and over 6.3 million deaths had been reported globally.
Further, the COVID update also confirmed that among Omicron variant lineages, the proportions of BA.5 and BA.4 continue to increase. BA.5 has been detected in 83 countries. Whereas BA.4, which has been detected in 73 countries, is also rising globally, the rate of increase is not as high as that of BA.5.
The cases in South-East Asia Region reported an increasing trend in cases since early June, with over 157,000 new cases reported, a 20% increase as compared to the previous week. Five of 10 countries (50 per cent) for which data are available showed increases in the number of new cases of 20% or greater, with the greatest proportional increases observed in Bhutan, Nepal and Bangladesh.
Accompanying all, the highest numbers of new cases were reported from India, which is 112,456 new cases, an increase of 21%; Thailand reported 15,950 new cases, an increase of 6% and Bangladesh reported 13,516 new cases, showing an increase of 53%.
The number of new weekly deaths in the region increased by 16 per cent as compared to the previous week, with over 350 new deaths reported. The highest numbers of new deaths were reported from India (200 new deaths, a 39 per cent increase), Thailand (108 new deaths, a decline of 14 per cent), and Indonesia (32 new deaths, an increase of 7 per cent).
Ahead of the concerns regards to the new variant, WHO Incident Manager of COVID-19, Abdi Mahamud, said that now is not the time to declare that the pandemic is over. In a statement he said.
“We are still in the midst of the pandemic and the virus has a lot of force left. So, whether it is the BA.4 or BA.5 or BA.2.75, the virus will continue. It does what it does good,” he said adding that people and communities must continue to wear masks, avoid crowds and ensure that the most vulnerable and high-risk population is protected.
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