A new sub-variant of the highly transmissible Omicron is being seen as the driving force behind the rising cases worldwide, World Health Organization (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a media briefing, Wednesday. The variant, BA.2.75, was first reported in India and is now present in at least 10 more counties. The global health body assured that it is closely monitoring the strain. It is yet to be determined if the new variant is clinically more severe than its predecessors.
The news comes amid India reporting almost 19,000 fresh Covid cases in 24 hours, as on Thursday evening. According to the WHO, globally reported cases have increased by nearly 30% over the past two weeks.
India has already logged over 64,300 new covid infections this week. Sensing trouble mounting, booster waiting time has been cut down to six months. The national daily positivity rate has crossed the 4% mark.
Chief Scientist at WHO Dr Soumya Swaminathan, however, added that there is not enough data to comment on the nature of BA.2.75. The worst affected states so far are Kerala, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu with 4,113, 3,142 and 2,743 new cases respectively.
WHO chief cited “dramatic reductions” in testing in several countries, delay in treatment to prevent serious illness and disparity in Covid-19 treatment, and lack of enthusiasm for booster dose as key reasons for the current global surge. “Vaccine protection, while still very effective in preventing serious disease and death, does lag,” he said, underscoring the importance of booster dose to prevent the spread of the disease.
Elsewhere in Europe, Italy reported over 1.35 lakh cases in just one day on July 5. France logged more than 2 lakh fresh infections in the last 24 hours, local media reported Thursday. The percentage of people testing positive for coronavirus is upward across the UK as well.