JHCHS: Covid-19 ‘here to stay’ as case numbers rise

The Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security said this week that the uptick in global Covid-19 activity is a reminder that the virus is “here to stay and always evolving”.

It said virologists in Israel and Denmark had reported three sequences of what looks like a direct descendent of the BA.2 Omicron lineage (now being referred to as BA.2.86).

WHO has designated it as a variant under monitoring, as it has a large number of mutations that need further review. And this week, scientists in the US confirmed another sequence collected in Michigan on 3rd August.

But it is the new Omicron variant EG.5 that is gaining the most ground globally, being the dominant variant causing Covid-19 cases. This is down to waning immunity, more people gathering indoors because of extreme heat, an uptick in large gatherings, fewer people taking precautions (eg masks, or testing and isolating when they have symptoms), and more people simply believing the risk of getting Covid-19 is low.

“While predicting the trajectory of an evolving virus is difficult, many public health officials are not raising alarms, the JHCHS stated. “Others, however, warn that high-risk groups – including older adults and those with comorbidities – are at the greatest risk of severe disease and should receive the updated booster vaccine when it becomes available. Additionally, any bout of Covid-19 brings with it a risk for Long Covid, although that risk likely is lessened by vaccination and treatment with an antiviral such as Paxlovid.”

Globally, as of 16th August 2023, there have been 769,774,646 confirmed cases of Covid-19, according to WHO, including 6,955,141 deaths. As of 13th August, a total of 13,498,472,794 vaccine doses had been administered.

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