‘Strong likelihood’ of more dangerous Virus variants, warn WHO experts

The World Health Organization (WHO) warned Thursday that “more dangerous” variants of Covid-19 could tear across the world as global infections soared to half a million daily, largely driven by the virulent Delta strain. An AFP tally of official sources found that after an initial dip, cases have been rising again worldwide since the end of June, topping 540,000 on Tuesday and again on Wednesday.

After the eighth emergency committee meeting on Wednesday regarding the coronavirus disease (Covid-19), the WHO experts released a statement saying the pandemic remains a challenge globally. “The pandemic is nowhere near finished,” the WHO’s emergency committee said in a statement. It highlighted “the strong likelihood for the emergence and global spread of new and possibly more dangerous variants of concern that may be even more challenging to control”. The virus has reappeared in places long believed to have dodged the worst of the pandemic, with Australia — lauded for its successful “Covid zero” strategy — facing a resurgence that has grown to almost 1,000 cases nationwide in a month. Amid the rapid spread of the highly contagious Delta variant, the committee noted that Covid-19 continues to evolve with four variants of concern and unanimously agreed that the pandemic still “constitutes an extraordinary event” that poses a health risk to people around the world.

The committee also emphasised the risk of the emergence of new zoonotic diseases while the world is still responding to the ongoing pandemic. “As such, the Committee concurred that the Covid-19 pandemic remains a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC) and offered the following advice to the Director-General,” it concluded.