The World Health Organization (WHO) announced today that it is now considering “previously in circulation” alpha, beta, gamma, delta and omicron variants of the coronavirus that causes covid-19, and will now focus on the study of new subvariants of the last of them, emerged since 2022.
One of the sub-variants of omicron, the XBB 1.5, considered one of the most contagious and currently one of the most present in cases of the pandemicis now considered “variant of interest”, while five others (BQ.1, BA.2.75, CH.1.1, XBB and XBF) become “variants under surveillance”.
If any of them deserves greater monitoring and special prevention measures, it would become “variant of concern”, as were alpha, beta, gamma, delta and omicronand a new letter of the Greek alphabet would be assigned to it, the WHO said in a statement.
The delta variantfirst detected in India, was the predominant one until the end of 2021, in which omicron (first found in analysis in South Africa) gradually replaced it. the omicronin addition to being more easily transmitted, develops new subvariants more quickly, which have multiplied since last yearcreating some confusion in monitoring the evolution of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus that causes covid-19.
The announced changes “do not imply that the circulation of omicron viruses has ceased to be a threat to public health”, clarified the WHO, which stressed that the modification “is carried out to better identify new possible threats.” The WHO recalls in any case that the variants derived from omicron tend to affect the upper respiratory tract (pharynx, trachea…) and not the lower (lungs) like the previous ones, a fact that contributes to the fact that the cases are generally less serious.
“International Public Health Emergency”
On the third anniversary of the declaration of the Covid-19 pandemic, the director general of the WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, has assured that He “trusts” that this year the Covid will stop being an “international public health emergency”.
“I am confident that this year we can say that Covid-19 has ended as a public health emergency of international importance,” he assured, although he recalled that deaths from the disease continue to occur. “Last week there were still more than 5,000 deaths from Covid-19. There are 5,000 more for a pathology that can be prevented and treated”Tedros lamented.
According to Tedros, this deal would be “an instrument of international law”, similar to the many other agreements and treaties that nations have agreed to. In this sense, the role of WHO would be to help implement the treaty that countries agree towhich, initially, will collect all the challenges that the world has faced “to guarantee that the mistakes that were made in this pandemic are not repeated.”