Covid-19: Omicron variant is prevalent and continues to evolve, says WHO

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The World Health Organization (WHO) updated the monitoring of the coronavirus this week. Data indicate that the Ômicron variant has become predominant in the world and is present in 98% of genetic sequences.

Furthermore, according to the WHO, the virus continues to evolve. In this context, WHO has updated its screening system and definitions for variants of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, to better match the current global scenario, to independently assess circulating Omicron sublines and classify new variants. with more clarity.

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Since the beginning of the pandemic, multiple variants of concern and variants of interest have been designated by the WHO based on their assessed potential for expansion and replacement of previous variants, for causing new waves with increased circulation, and for the need for adjustments in health actions. public.

There are three classifications “variants of concern”, “variants of interest” and “under monitoring”. The classification of “variants of concern” brings together strains of the new coronavirus that present changes that may affect the properties of the virus, with one or more implications, including increased transmission capacity or disease severity, in addition to impacts on efficacy. of vaccines, drugs and diagnostic methods.

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Based on evidence from clinical and epidemiological studies, there is consensus among experts in the WHO Technical Advisory Group on the Evolution of the SARS-CoV-2 Virus that, compared to previous variants, Omicron represents the most divergent variant of concern seen to date. the moment.

Since its emergence, Omicron strains have continued to evolve genetically with an increasing range of strains, which until now have all been characterized by immunity-evading properties of the existing population and a preference for infecting the upper respiratory tract rather than the lower respiratory tract. lower compared to other variants such as Alpha, Beta, Gamma and Delta.

According to the WHO, Omicron represents more than 98% of publicly available sequences as of February 2022. The genetic structure of Omicron is the most likely basis from which new variations of the virus can arise. However, the emergence of completely new variants or those derived from other lineages is not ruled out.

The previous WHO system classified all Omicron sublines as part of the variant of primary concern. Which could miss more specific information for each underline.

With that in mind, as of March 15th, the WHO variant tracking system began to consider the classification of Ômicron sublines independently, which can be classified as one of the three criteria as variants under monitoring, of interest or concern.

The objective is to map evolutionary advances of the coronavirus that require public health interventions. The WHO analysis emphasizes that this type of monitoring serves to better identify potential threats.

According to the latest WHO update, more than 760 million cases of the disease have been confirmed and about 6.8 million accumulated deaths. More than 13 billion doses of vaccines have been administered to date around the world.

Source: CNN Brasil

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