Spikes in Asia, variant spread keep global health officials on edge

 

COVID-19 cases continue to rise in a number of Asian countries, and hospitalizations are rising in others. Over in the United Kingdom, mitigation measures are slated to relax soon, but health officials are closely tracking sharp rises in the B1617 variant, first identified in India.

At a World Health Organization (WHO) media briefing today, Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, PhD, said that while India’s situation is still “hugely concerning,” several countries are also reporting worrying numbers of cases, hospitalizations, and deaths and have emergency needs.

“Nepal, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, and Egypt are just some of the countries that are dealing with spikes in cases and hospitalizations,” he said, adding that some countries in the Americas still have high case numbers and spikes are occurring in some African nations.

Tedros also said vaccine inequities are sadly playing out, with only 0.3% going to low-income countries. “Trickle down vaccination is not an effective strategy for fighting a deadly respiratory virus,” he said, pointing out that even as some countries are vaccinating children and adolescents, others don’t have enough to immunize the health workers needed to staff hospitals.

 

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