make World Health Organization Huge effort to track variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19.
In an interview with the “Science in Five” programme, Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, epidemiologist and technical officer in charge of combating Covid-19 at the World Health Organization, said that tracking processes for novel coronavirus variants is based on monitoring and making sure that there is robust tracking and testing around the world until It is possible to know where the virus is most intensely spread.
In Episode 69 presented by WHO Public Information Officer Vismita Gupta-Smith, Dr Maria said that testing needs to be supported by sequencing, which has expanded greatly over the past two years, which is really helping to track how the virus has changed.
Dr. Maria added that it is normal for viruses to change, and the more a virus spreads, the greater the chances of it changing, but strong monitoring and continuous testing, including robust sequence monitoring, helps the World Health Organization with scientists around the world to consider changes in virus and determine which changes are important or worrisome and why.
On the challenges faced by countries and the World Health Organization while tracking changes, Dr. Maria said that the most important challenges in the third year of the pandemic are maintaining and strengthening field monitoring systems on the ground, noting that countries are currently facing many challenges related to Covid-19, in addition to So many other challenges that they have to deal with, other diseases, and so there’s a strenuous effort that goes into keeping up with surveillance and testing, and making sure that there’s good tracking of this virus in high-risk populations and people over the age of 60 and people with diseased conditions Chronic and immunocompromised patients.
Vaccines and other measures
Dr. Maria pointed out that the primary move in the COVID-19 strategy is not just to improve access to vaccines, but also to maintain public health services such as surveillance, testing and sequencing.
She explained that surveillance, testing and sequencing is critical for the WHO to be able to determine how the SARS-Cove-2 virus has changed, and most importantly, what this means for WHO scientists and experts in terms of countermeasures, which could in turn necessitate reconsideration. In public health and social measures, the use of antiviral drugs and various treatment protocols, as well as ensuring that COVID-19 vaccines remain effective.
In this context, Dr. Maria noted that COVID-19 vaccines remain incredibly effective in preventing severe COVID cases and death, including Omicron’s latest categorized variant of “concern”.
Omicron and subspecies
Dr. Maria added that the World Health Organization is working in cooperation with surveillance officials, public health officials and experts around the world to track SARS-Cove-2 variants, with the aim of finding antiviral drugs, its variants and its sub-strain, in addition to continuing to monitor the effectiveness of vaccines and achieve adequate protection against Omicron, The latest variant among five variants that have been classified as of concern, the virus sub-strains denoted by BA.1 and BA.2.
In this context, a Reuters statistic showed that more than 480.48 million people were infected with the emerging coronavirus worldwide, while the total number of deaths resulting from the virus reached six million and 499,880.
Infections with the virus have been recorded in more than 210 countries and regions since the first cases were discovered in China in December 2019.