WHO warn there is a ‘strong likelihood’ of more dangerous Covid variants emerging and declare: ‘The pandemic is nowhere near finished’
- An emergency committee said the Covid pandemic is continuing to evolve
- There are currently four variants of concern and more could arise, they warned
- WHO director general called on China to be more transparent about virus origins
The WHO has warned there is a ‘strong likelihood’ of dangerous Covid variants spreading around the world as they declared the pandemic ‘nowhere near finished.
An emergency committee of the global health body said the mutant strains will make it even harder for the pandemic to come to an end.
In a statement, the committee said: ‘Despite national, regional, and global efforts, the pandemic is nowhere near finished.
The World Health Organisation ‘s emergency committee has warned that new concerning variants of Covid-19 were expected to spread around the world. Pictured: a women is tested for the virus in Bangkok
‘The pandemic continues to evolve with four variants of concern dominating global epidemiology.
‘The Committee recognised the strong likelihood for the emergence and global spread of new and possibly more dangerous variants of concern that may be even more challenging to control.’
Meanwhile, the head of the WHO today implored China to be more transparent about the origins of the pandemic.
Investigations in Wuhan earlier this year were hampered by the lack of raw data on the first days of spread of the virus.
A team spent four weeks in and around the city with Chinese researchers and said in a joint report in March that the virus had probably been transmitted from bats to humans through another animal.
It said that ‘introduction through a laboratory incident was considered to be an extremely unlikely pathway’, but countries including the United States and some scientists were not satisfied.
‘We ask China to be transparent and open and to cooperate,’ WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a news conference on Thursday.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus urged China to be more transparent about the origins of Covid
‘We owe it to the millions who suffered and the millions who died to know what happened,’ he said.
China has called the theory that the virus may have escaped from a Wuhan laboratory ‘absurd’ and said repeatedly that ‘politicizing’ the issue will hamper investigations.
Tedros will brief WHO’s 194 member states on Friday regarding a proposed second phase of study, WHO’s top emergency expert Mike Ryan said.
‘We look forward to working with our Chinese counterparts on that process and the director-general will outline measures to member states at a meeting tomorrow, on Friday,’ he told reporters.
German Health Minister Jens Spahn, who held talks with Tedros on Thursday, urged China to enable investigations into the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic to continue, saying more information was needed.
Spahn, speaking during a visit to the WHO headquarters in Geneva, also announced a 260 million euro ($307 million) donation to WHO’s ACT-Accelerator programme, which aims to ensure the entire world, including poorer countries, receive COVID-19 vaccines and tests.