According to WHO’s Covid-19 technical lead Maria Van Kerkhove, statements like Omicron is mild, the pandemic is over are misinformation.
As we hear about a fresh outbreak of Covid-19 cases in China and South Korea, the world seems to be trapped under the grips of the virus once again. As per the World Health Organisation (WHO), the rising number of cases across the countries and the newly detected variant of SARS-CoV-2 virus in Israel has increased the pandemic-induced confusion among people.
According to WHO’s Covid-19 technical lead Maria Van Kerkhove, statements like Omicron is mild, the pandemic is over, and this is the last variant, are all misinformation.
Here’s are 5 things that WHO says about current Covid-19 situation:
- Lot of misinformation, but pandemic is not over – As shared by Maria, “We have huge amounts of misinformation that's out there. The misinformation that Omicron is mild. Misinformation that the pandemic is over. Misinformation that this is the last variant that we will have to deal with. This is really causing a lot of confusion.”
- Is Omicron’s substrain BA.2 more dangerous than BA.1? - Speaking about how Omicron’s sub strains are changing, Maria says, experts have not observed changes in the severity of BA.2 compared to BA.1 at population levels as of now.
“However, with huge numbers of cases, you will see an increase in hospitalisations and that in turn has translated into increased deaths, primarily in people not vaxxed or partially vaxxed”, she added.
Highlighting the benefits of vaccination, Maris says that the nations that are witnessing increasing mortality rates than previous waves have not vaccinated their people, especially the vulnerable group of people.
- No sign of Omicron becoming seasonal as yet – According to Dr Mike Ryan, Executive Director of WHO’s health emergencies programme, the Omicron variant of Covid-19 will pick up pockets for months and months until another pocket of susceptibility opens up. "This is how virus work. They establish themselves within a community & move quickly to the next unprotected community”, he said. The virus is not showing any sign of becoming seasonal as yet, he added.
- Covid-19 variants are evolution of the virus – Dr Muke Ryan said, “When a virus enters human body, it evolves. It's just evolution in action. The same virus, going into a body and coming out slightly different. That's called drift and over time that can generate variants. Recombination occurs when two viruses infect the same person or the same animal. And what you then have is not just errors in transcription. But two viruses can exchange large amount of genetic information and you effectively get a new virus out the other end.”
- Recombinants are mostly not good: Dr Ryan stressed that these recombinants are mostly not very good but occassionally they are. Stressing upon the need to monitor recombinants, he said, “And that's how we generate pandemics of influenza. It's through viral recomibation which is called antigenic shift versus antigenic drift”
Here's what Maria Van Kerkhove says about the current Covid-19 situation: