Coronavirus Pandemic

Covid-19: WHO experts warn of strong likelihood of new concerning variants

Filed on July 15, 2021
WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus listens to Didier Houssin, Chair of the Emergency Committee, as he speaks during a press conference. Photo: AFP

New variants expected to spread around the world, potentially making it harder to halt pandemic, WHO says.

The World Health Organisation's emergency committee warned Thursday that new concerning variants of Covid-19 were expected to spread around the world, potentially making it even harder to halt the pandemic.

"The pandemic is nowhere near finished," the committee warned in a statement following a meeting Wednesday on the pandemic situation.

Committee chairman Didier Houssin acknowledged to reporters that "recent trends are worrying".

He said a year-and-a half after the WHO first declared a so-called Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) - its highest alert level - "we are still running after this virus and the virus is still running after us".

For now, four concerning variants of Covid-19 are dominating the global pandemic picture, Alpha, Beta, Gamma and especially the rapidly-spreading Delta variant first detected in India.

But the committee warned that worse could lie ahead, pointing to "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".

WHO declares variants as being "of concern" when they are seen as either more transmissible, more deadly or have the potential to get past some vaccine protections.

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