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Weekly Covid deaths have dropped to lowest since March 2020, WHO says

The World Well being Group on Tuesday stated weekly new Covid deaths have fallen to the bottom stage since March 2020, however warned a worldwide decline in testing for the virus may hinder its efforts to struggle the pandemic.

The world recorded 15,668 new deaths within the final seven days, with Europe and the Americas representing a bulk of that quantity, in keeping with WHO information. The determine dropped from greater than 18,000 new deaths reported throughout the week that ended on April 17, the WHO’s newest epidemiological report stated.

Each new deaths and instances recorded worldwide have declined since late March, the report stated.

The decline in deaths is nice information that “we should welcome with some warning,” WHO Director-Common Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus advised reporters at a press briefing. He warned that a number of international locations have diminished Covid testing, which limits the WHO’s potential to trace the virus’ results and patterns of transmission and evolution.

“This virus will not go away simply because international locations stopped on the lookout for it. It is nonetheless spreading, it is nonetheless altering, and it is nonetheless killing,” Tedros stated. “Though deaths are declining, we nonetheless do not perceive the long-term penalties of an infection in those that survive. With regards to a lethal virus, ignorance shouldn’t be bliss.”

He stated the WHO calls on all international locations to keep up Covid surveillance methods, which embrace testing and genome sequencing.

Covid testing charges worldwide have plummeted by 70% to 90% within the final 4 months, stated Dr. Invoice Rodriguez, CEO of worldwide diagnostics nonprofit FIND.

Rodriguez, who was a visitor knowledgeable on the briefing, stated the decline in testing undermines the world’s potential to deal with Covid with new therapeutics.

Pfizer’s Paxlovid, for example, is an oral antiviral therapy that requires “immediate and correct testing” earlier than administration, which is advisable inside 5 days of when signs begin, in keeping with Tedros. He stated testing is considered one of a number of challenges that restrict the impact of the therapy that’s in any other case simple to manage and may stop hospitalizations.

Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO’s technical lead on Covid-19, additionally stated the worldwide decline in testing provides her “little confidence within the variety of instances being reported world wide.”

“The sheer proven fact that we now have had large adjustments in testing methods and large reductions within the numbers of checks getting used world wide, we now have little or no confidence in what we are literally seeing,” Van Kerkhove stated.

The world reported over 4 million new instances within the final seven days, in keeping with WHO information. That quantity is down from the greater than 5 million new instances reported worldwide throughout the week that ended on April 17, the WHO’s newest epidemiological report stated.

Van Kerkhove stated the dearth of testing limits the world’s potential to observe newer variants of concern, significantly sublineages of the omicron variant.

The extra contagious omicron BA.2 subvariant is now the dominant pressure worldwide and has fueled new Covid surges in Europe and China, which is battling its worst outbreak since 2020.

BA.2 can also be quickly spreading throughout the U.S., representing 68.1% of all instances circulating within the nation throughout the week that ended on April 23, in keeping with information from the Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention. One other subvariant, BA.2.12.1, is gaining traction within the U.S. as properly, making up 28.7% of latest instances, CDC information stated.

“The uncertainty that we now have in regards to the subsequent variant will stay a big explanation for concern for us as a result of we have to plan for a lot of various kinds of situations,” Van Kerkhove stated.

— CNBC’s Spencer Kimball contributed to this report

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