New Delhi: The World Health Organization (WHO) is seeing concerning trends for COVID-19 ahead of the winter season in the northern hemisphere, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General at WHO said, ringing an alarm during a media briefing on global health issues on September 6 (Wednesday). Giving an insight of the impact of COVID-19 in terms of morbidity and mortality, Dr Tedros said, “Deaths are increasing in some parts of the Middle East and Asia, ICU admissions are increasing in Europe and hospitalisations are increasing in several regions.”
However, the data is still limited. Only 43 countries – less than a quarter of WHO Member States – are reporting deaths to WHO, and only 20 provide information on hospitalisations, he said.
Further talking about the emerging variants, Dr Tedros said,
Globally, there is not one variant that is dominant. The variant of interest EG.5 is on the rise, while the XBB sub-variants are declining. The BA.2.86 variant has been detected in small numbers in 11 countries. WHO is monitoring this variant closely to assess its transmissibility and potential impact.
Amid this, one of WHO’s biggest concerns is the low level of COVID-19 vaccination among at-risk people that is older adults and those with comorbidities like heart disease and lung disease. Dr Tedros made a clarion call for vaccination. He said,
One of WHO’s biggest concerns is the low level of at-risk people who have received a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine recently. Our message is not to wait to get an additional dose if it is recommended for you.
We continue to see concerning trends for #COVID19. What worries us the most is the low level of at-risk people who have received a vaccine dose recently. Please don't wait to get an additional dose if it is recommended for you. pic.twitter.com/pJ9SkKHDv6
— Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (@DrTedros) September 6, 2023
The continuous rise increase in hospitalisations and deaths due to the Novel Coronavirus reflects that COVID-19 is here to stay. “We will continue to need tools to fight it”, said Dr Tedros.
All About Variant Of Interest EG.5
EG.5 is a variant of interest that WHO is tracking. It is a sub-lineage of Omicron with an increased growth advantage which means that it can transmit efficiently between people. In a WHO video explainer dated August 29, 2023, Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, COVID-19 technical lead said,
We are seeing waves of infections of EG.5 in some countries, meaning that it is outcompeting some of the other variants that are in circulation. We do not see a change in severity which means that EG.5 can infect people and cause the full range of disease from asymptomatic infection all the way to severe disease and death. But the available tools that exist that can prevent infection and can prevent severe disease continue to work against EG.5.
NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via the Banega Swachh India initiative, which is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – the LGBTQ population, indigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fight malnutrition, mental wellbeing, self care, science and health, adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity, which is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF)status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.