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WHO identifies new COVID variant, countries urged to provide more data to fight virus

World Health Organization (WHO) has identified a new EG.5 coronavirus variant that is spreading in the United States and China and has been categorized as a “variant of interest” by the World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday.

However, WHO noted that it doesn’t appear to be more dangerous to public health compared to other variants.

This rapidly spreading variant, accounting for over 17% of cases in the United States, has led to increases in COVID-19 cases across the country. It has also been identified in China, South Korea, Japan, Canada, and other nations.

To date, the global death toll from COVID-19 has exceeded 6.9 million, with over 768 million confirmed cases since the virus emerged.

According to a report on WHO’s risk evaluation assessment seen by TheTimes, it states that,

  • “Collectively, available evidence does not suggest that EG.5 has additional public health risks relative to the other currently circulating Omicron descendent lineages”.

A more thorough assessment of the risk posed by the EG.5 variant is therefore required according to WHO.

Countries urged to continue COVID data reporting 

Van Kerkhove, the COVID-19 technical lead at WHO, mentioned that EG.5 displayed higher transmissibility but wasn’t more severe than other Omicron variants.

He expressed concern over the lack of data from several countries, hampering the fight against the virus. Only 11% had reported hospitalizations and ICU admissions linked to the virus.

According to him,

  • “About a year ago, we were in a much better situation to either anticipate or act or be more agile. And now the delay in our ability to do that is growing”.

Consequently, WHO released a series of ongoing guidelines, urging countries to persist in sharing COVID data, especially mortality and morbidity statistics, and to maintain vaccination efforts.

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