The number of new coronavirus cases increased by 18% in the past week, with more than 4.1 million cases globally, according to the World Health Organisation.
The United Nations health agency, in its latest weekly report on the pandemic, said the number of deaths worldwide stood at about 8,500 as of a week ago. COVID-related deaths increased in three regions: the Middle East, Southeast Asia and the Americas.
According to the report released late Wednesday, the biggest weekly increase in new COVID-19 cases was seen in the Middle East, where they increased by 47%. The WHO said infections increased by about 32% in Europe and Southeast Asia, and by about 14% in the US.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said cases are rising in 110 countries, mostly driven by the Omicron variants BA.4 and BA.5.
“This pandemic is changing, but it is not over,” Tedros said during a press briefing this week. He said the ability to track the genetic evolution of COVID-19 was “at risk” as countries eased surveillance and genetic sequencing efforts, warning that emerging and potentially dangerous new variants would be more difficult to catch.
He called on countries to vaccinate their most vulnerable populations, including health workers and those over the age of 60, saying that millions of people live without vaccination and are at risk of serious illness and death.
Tedros said more than 1.2 billion COVID-19 vaccines have been administered globally, with the average vaccination rate in poor countries being around 13%.
“If rich countries are vaccinating children under 6 months of age and are planning further rounds of immunization, it is inconceivable to suggest that low-income countries should not vaccinate and continue their most At-risk countries should be promoted. [people],” They said.
According to data compiled by Oxfam and the People’s Vaccine Alliance, less than half of the 2.1 billion vaccines delivered to poor countries by the group of seven large economies have been distributed.
Earlier this month, the United States authorized COVID-19 vaccines for infants and preschoolers, launching a national immunization plan targeting the youngest 18 million children.
US regulators have also recommended that some adults get updated boosters in the fall that match the latest coronavirus variants.