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Vaccines still protect against new Covid-19 variants: WHO chief Ghebreyesus

WHO experts emphasised that vaccines are still highly effective against Covid-19, even against the new variants of the disease emerging in South Africa and the US

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Coronavirus | World Health Organisation | Covid-19 XE Variant

IANS  |  Geneva 

WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus

Experts from the World Health Organization (WHO) emphasised on Wednesday that vaccines are still highly effective against Covid-19, even new variants of the disease emerging in South Africa and the US.

data shows that global cases of Covid-19 are continually declining, with reported weekly deaths at their lowest level since March 2020. However, the Organization's Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus cautioned at a press briefing on Wednesday that these trends don't tell the full story, Xinhua news agency reported.

"Driven by sub-variants, we are seeing an increase in reported cases in the Americas and Africa. The South African scientists identified late last year have now reported two more sub-variants, BA.4 and BA.5, as the reason for a spike in cases in South Africa," he said.

"It's too soon to know whether these new sub-variants can cause more severe disease than other Omicron sub-variants, but early data suggests vaccination remains protective against severe disease and death," he added.

According to Maria van Kerkhove from the WHO's Health Emergencies Program, BA.4 and BA.5 have been detected in a number of countries. The is still evaluating the severity of the two new variants.

However, van Kerkhove said it is not yet possible to confirm whether BA.4 and BA.5 have resulted in increased hospitalizations, as any rise in numbers could be due to a general spike in case numbers in South Africa. Nevertheless, she emphasised: "Vaccines still work incredibly well against preventing severe disease and death."

She also called for monitoring of, and testing for COVID-19 to continue in order for the WHO to be able to provide the public with the most accurate information and advice possible.

--IANS

int/shs

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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First Published: Thu, May 05 2022. 09:58 IST
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