The World Health Organization said on Wednesday it had discovered two new subvariants of Omicron in South Africa. They are causing a new wave of Covid cases.
Two new Omicron subvariants, the virulence of which has yet to be determined, are driving the new wave of the Covid-19 pandemic in South Africa, the WHO said on Wednesday.
“South African scientists who identified Omicron late last year have now flagged two other Omicron sub-variants, BA.4 and BA.5, as causing a spike in cases in South Africa,” World Health Organization Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a news conference.
A new wave of cases in the country
“It is too early to tell whether these new subvariants can cause more severe disease than other Omicron subvariants,” but early data suggests the vaccine continues to provide good protection against severe forms of Covid and reduce the risk of death, he said.
South Africa, the country officially hardest hit on the continent by Covid-19, has entered a new wave of the pandemic, the Center for Epidemic Response and Innovation (CERI) warned at the end of April.
The country, where less than 45% of the adult population is fully vaccinated, had experienced a 48-hour period in early March without any Covid-related deaths, a first since 2020. President Cyril Ramaphosa announced in early April the lifting of all restrictions. pandemic-related legal restrictions.
An increase in cases on the African continent
“The best way to protect the population remains vaccination, as well as social and public health measures which have proven their worth”, noted Dr Tedros.
The WHO has recorded more than 6.2 million deaths worldwide since the start of the pandemic. Many believe that the actual numbers are much higher.
“Globally, the number of Covid-19 cases and deaths continues to decline, with reported weekly deaths at their lowest level since March 2020,” the WHO chief said.
At the regional level, however, the WHO notes an increase in cases on the African and American continents, driven by the subvariants of Omicron.
“We don’t know what awaits us”
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus deplored the reduction in screening activities in certain countries, which prevents the evolution of the virus from being monitored and forces the WHO to pilot the pandemic “blindly”.
“The BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants have been identified because South Africa is still doing the genetic sequencing (of the virus) that other countries have stopped doing,” he said. “In many countries we cannot see how the virus mutates. We do not know what awaits us,” he insisted.