WHO Cautions COVID-19 Pandemic Isn't Over, New BA.5 Variant Spreading Fast

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Image via Getty/FABRICE COFFRINI
Image via Getty/FABRICE COFFRINI

The World Health Organization has cautioned the public that the COVID-19 pandemic isn’t over yet, and a new variant is spreading rapidly in America.

As CNN reported, the novel coronavirus has continued to spread and a new subvariant of Omicron, BA.5, has been detected. The strain was first detected in July 2022, and is believed to have caused over 50 percent of cases in the United States, per Yale Medicine. It’s believed to be the most contagious variant to date, alongside BA.4, another Omicron subvariant that accounted for 20 percent of all U.S. COVID cases.

The new subvariant is behind a huge surge in cases, with the World Health Organization estimating a surge of 30 percent over the past two weeks. The subvariants are spread rapidly across Europe, too, and have resulted in a 25 percent rise in cases according to Michael Ryan, the executive director of WHO’s Health Emergencies Program. In fact, he said the number might even be higher.

“New waves of the virus demonstrate again that covid-19 is nowhere near over," said WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, per the Washington Post. In a news briefing on Tuesday, White House COVID-19 response coordinator Ashish Jha said the Biden administration is “closely monitoring” the spread of the variant, as WHO puts pressure on governments worldwide to put more efforts back in testing and vaccine rollouts.

"To confront BA.5, the Administration will continue mobilizing the full strength and capabilities of the federal government and working with state and local leaders, health care workers, the private sector, and community- and faith-based organizations to ensure that the American people have easy and convenient access to and use vaccines, tests, and treatments," said the White House in a statement released this week.

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