Pointers at Glance
- Soumya Swaminathan from WHO says that SARS-Cov2 is expected to continue to mutate and evolve to be successful and may result in repeated waves or covid surge cycles every 4 to 6 months.
- The reassuring thing is that existing vaccines continue to protect against severe disease and death and that this protection appears to last after a third dose.
COVID concerns are far from over. Most experts have said that the impact will not be severe, leading to hospitalization and deaths, but there will be infections.
There are frequent cases that can be heard that people are down with COVID, even anecdotally. In the last 24 hours, the official number of total new covid cases is over 19,000 in the country.
The chief scientist at the World Health Organization (WHO), Soumya Swaminathan, says in an interview, “From what we know about this virus, we can expect SARS-Cov2 to continue to mutate and evolve to be successful. Every new variant will either have to be more immune evasive, more transmissible, or both. It is also clear that our immune responses wane over a while (especially the neutralizing antibodies in the blood).”
Hence, she says, it is expected to see repeated waves or covid surge cycles of infection every 4 to 6 months, as they are seeing with BA.4 and BA.5 in the USA and many parts worldwide.
The reassuring thing is that existing vaccines continue to protect against severe disease and death and that after a third dose, this protection appears to last.”
Therefore, she says that high vaccination coverage (including boosters, especially in high-risk groups) can minimize the impact on health due to future covid surge cycles.”
She added that among the dominant Omicron variants today, based on the submissions to GISAID, there are BA.4 and BA.5 globally. We know that BA.5 is good at evading immunity, even among people with BA.1 infections earlier this year. While hospitalizations have increased in some countries, overall, clinical severity is similar to previous Omicron variants.
She also said on the transmission rate, “the R-value of currently circulating Omicron variants is higher than previous ones. R is also affected by the preventive measures people take, and in many countries, masking and other precautions have been abandoned.
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