Brazilian scientists studying the evolution of the Ómicron variant of the coronavirus warned that the sub-variants that raise concerns in the scientific community regarding their behavior, BA.4 and BA.5, have already been detected in at least nine countries. In this sense, the WHO (World Health Organization) and scientists dedicated to studying the Covid-19 pandemic fear that new outbreaks will be generated in the world.
In this framework, the scientist Tulio de Oliveira, in charge of the National Institute of Communicable Diseases in Johannesburg, South Africa, one of the most prestigious institutions in the world in the matter, previously requested the new reports that “we must work carefully and diligently, but calmly”.
He referred above all to the sanitary measures that can be adopted by the national states where these sub-variants are detected. It should be remembered that in November 2021, after being detected in the United States and Great Britain, the governments took measures that ultimately turned out to be too early, since they did not prevent new infections.
Wendy Barclay, a virologist at Imperial College London in the United Kingdom, said special attention is being paid to a difference in how severe the disease can develop and whether it is immune to currently existing vaccines.
He added: “It would be great if these new variants were part of a trend where the virus became milder, but there is no biological reason to believe that this will always be the case.”
For its part, the WHO is collaborating with scientists to better understand its current spread, as well as any potential impact these two new mutations of Omicron, the most contagious variant of SARS-CoV2, may have.
The Organization’s director general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said that “it is gratifying to see a downward trend in registered deaths from coronavirus” and that last week “they were the lowest in the last two years.”
However, he warned that the pandemic “is far from over.”
“Transmission remains very high and vaccination coverage remains very low in too many countries and the relaxation of many public health and social measures is allowing transmission to continue, with the risk of new variants emerging,” he said.
In addition, he explained that in countries with high population immunity, there is a “dissociation between cases, hospitalizations and deaths”, while in others with less access to vaccines “the massive increase in cases caused a large number of hospitalizations and even a greater number of deaths” than in previous waves.
In turn, he stressed that there are three factors that concern him: the tiredness of the population, the duration of immunity and the inability to predict how the virus will evolve.
Despite the uncertainties, he recalled that the world has the tools to limit transmission, save lives and protect health systems with vaccination, testing, treatment and social and public health measures to “end the acute phase” of the coronavirus pandemic.