Home / News / India /  WHO cites 2 reasons why COVID deaths are rising again: 'It's now complicated…'

Noting that 14,000 or 15,000 people are dying every week due to COVID, World Health Organsiation (WHO) said that the pandemic was not over. “We need a reality check. We really need to take stock of where we are. We should not be in a position with 14,000 or 15,000 people dying every week. We just shouldn't."

Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO's technical lead Covid-19, in a recent interview expressed the toll was "heartbreaking" because the tests, treatments, vaccines and public health measures to control the disease were all available.

On being asked whether it is the Omicron subvariants or becoming more severe or there are other factors that are driving the deaths, Van Kerkhove listed out a few critical factors.

Are the Omicron subvariants becoming more severe or are there other factors that are driving the deaths?

We are constantly looking at the variants of concern and the subvariant of Omicron that are circulating globally. Of the sequences that have been shared most of them are Omicron, of which 83% are subvariant BA.5. So it is now the dominant variant across the world, Van Kerkhove said.

“When you see an increase in transmissibility, there will be an increase in hospitalisation, and when there is an increase in hospitalisation, the risk of death will also increase."

Pointing out another critical factor, the WHO official said, a large population across the world is yet to get the primary vaccine dose. And this will drive mortality.

She further pointed out that there are dozens of subvariants of BA.5 as well.

“We look at a number of factors inthese subvariants - severity is one, and transmissibility is one. Now, increased transmissibility obviously means more hospitalisation but till now, it hasn't been proven that BA.5 can cause more severe diseases than other subvariants. And it is complicated three years into this pandemic when testing is reduced and sequencing is reduced, and that reduces our ability to analyze (the variants) as we don't have the data that we need."

Van Kerkhove insisted that the pandemic was not over, but it could be brought to an end while people continue to live their daily lives.

"We just need to put a little extra thought into that, of being a bit more careful," she said adding, "A lot of people are talking about living with Covid. But we need to live with this responsibly.

"A million deaths this year is not living with Covid. Having 15,000 deaths per week is not living with Covid-19 responsibly."

Nearly 6.45 million deaths have been reported to the WHO since the virus was first detected in China in late 2019.

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