WHO Warns of Virulent COVID-19 Variant Risk

World Health Organization outlined three probable scenarios for the Covid-19 pandemic in 2022, with a new, more virulent strain being the worst-case scenario.

According to the WHO, the most likely path forward is for the virus’s severity of disease to decline over time as public immunity grows.

However, a more hazardous type of worry than Omicron could be waiting around the corner, according to the UN health agency.

The WHO’s updated Covid-19 Strategic Preparedness, Readiness, and Response Plan was announced, with WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus expecting it would be the final one.

It lays forth three options for how the pandemic will play out in the third year.

“The most likely scenario, based on what we know now, is that the virus continues to mutate, but the severity of sickness it causes decreases over time as immunity increases due to vaccination and infection,” Tedros said at a press conference.

He believes that when protection wanes, recurring surges in cases and deaths may occur, necessitating periodic booster immunizations for vulnerable persons.

“In the best-case scenario, we may see fewer severe variations arise, eliminating the need for boosters or new vaccine formulations,” he said.

“A more virulent and highly transmissible variation evolves in the worst-case scenario. People’s protection against severe sickness and death, whether through earlier vaccination or infection, will swiftly decrease in the face of this new threat.”

According to Tedros, such a situation would necessitate considerably changing currently available vaccines and ensuring that they are provided to those most at risk of serious disease.

In the third year of the epidemic, Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO’s technical head on Covid-19, claimed the virus still had “a lot of vigor remaining.”

More than 10 million new cases and 45,000 fatalities were reported to the WHO last week, with the organization predicting that the number of new infections will be far higher due to lower testing rates.

More than 479 million confirmed cases and more than six million fatalities had been recorded by the end of last week, while WHO concedes that the true toll could be several times higher.

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