Global Rebound of COVID-19 Cases: Updates from United States, United Kingdom, India, Japan, and Belgium

2023-08-12 16:59:55

A rebound is also reported in the United States, the United Kingdom, but also in India or Japan.

The number of new cases recorded worldwide jumped 80% over one month, with 1.5 million additional contaminations from July 10 to August 6, the World Health Organization said on Friday.

If, since the beginning of May, the WHO no longer considers the pandemic as a global health emergency, “the virus continues to circulate in all countries, continues to kill and continues to change”, underlined on Wednesday its director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

Its EG.5 version, nicknamed Eris by some scientists, is currently the most scrutinized because it could carry the rebound. Summer gatherings and lower immunity can also play a role.

And in Belgium?

According to data from Sciensano, the increase in Covid-19 cases is low in Belgium. Only 76 new infections have been reported on average each day for the past seven days, as reported by RTBF. A low figure compared to the thousands of daily infections recorded in winter 2022.

With regard to hospitalizations, the figures have not been updated since June 2023.

“Don’t let your guard down”

This sub-variant of the Omicron family, a member of the XBB lineage, appears to be more transmissible than others in circulation -probably under the effect of new genetic mutations-, and perhaps more capable of escaping immune defences.

More than 17% of Covid cases identified worldwide in mid-July fell under EG.5 (+7.6% over one month), according to the WHO.

“It has been identified in India, but also in other Asian countries, in North America, in Europe, where it tends to supplant the previous dominant strains. This variant is not reported, where it has gone, to cause specific symptoms, nor any particular virulence,” Antoine Flahault, director of the Institute of Global Health at the University of Geneva, told AFP.

So far, “the available evidence does not suggest that EG.5 poses additional public health risks compared to other circulating Omicron progeny lines,” according to the WHO.

But “the risk remains that a more dangerous variant will emerge and cause a sudden increase in cases and deaths,” said Dr Tedros.

Monitoring epidemic oscillations is however more complicated, due to a lack of data since the drop in the number of tests, sequencing and the stopping of monitoring devices. “The fog is thick on the epidemiological situation all over the world. It is urgent that the health authorities reinstate a reliable health monitoring system for Covid”, according to Antoine Flahaut.

In France, the General Directorate of Health assured that “the health authorities have not lowered their guard” but “adapted” the surveillance because “the Covid is now one of the viral acute respiratory infections, alongside the flu and the RSV”, at the origin of bronchiolitis.

Over time and waves, the impact of Covid on hospitalizations and deaths has greatly diminished, thanks to the high level of immunity acquired by vaccination and/or infections. But it is not zero, and the long Covids are added to it.

Vaccination remains crucial, and the WHO urged on Wednesday to “intensify efforts to increase vaccination coverage”.

To better match the mutations of the virus, the pharmaceutical groups Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna and Novavax are preparing vaccines targeting the XBB line.

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