GENEVA ( Associated Press) – The number of coronavirus cases jumped 18% in the past week, with more than 4.1 million cases worldwide, according to the World Health Organization.
In its new weekly report, the UN health agency said the global death toll stood at around 8,500, the same as last week. Deaths related to COVID-19 increased in three regions: the Middle East, Southeast Asia and the Americas.
The highest weekly increase in infections was recorded in the Middle East, where it rose 47%, according to the report published late Wednesday. According to the WHO, infections have increased by about 32% in Europe and Southeast Asia and 14% in the US.
Cases were rising in 110 countries, mainly driven by Omicron’s BA.4 and BA.5 variants.
“This pandemic is changing, but it is not over,” Tedros said during a news conference this week. The ability to track the genetic evolution of COVID-19 is “at risk”, he said, as countries ease containment and genetic sequencing efforts. This can make it more difficult to identify potentially dangerous new forms.
Tedros called on countries to immunize their most vulnerable populations, such as medical workers and those over 60, noting that millions remain without vaccinations and are at risk of serious illness and death.
Although more than 1.2 billion COVID-19 vaccines have been administered worldwide, he said, the average vaccination rate in poor countries is around 13%.
“If rich countries are vaccinating children under 6 months of age and are planning new rounds of vaccination, it is inconceivable to suggest that low-income countries should not vaccinate and remain at their highest risk ( people) should be promoted,” he 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 major economies have been distributed.
The United States this month authorized the vaccination of infants and preschool children against COVID-19 and unveiled a national plan targeting 18 million young children. US officials have also recommended that some adults receive a booster dose in the fall, adjusted for new strains of the coronavirus.