In its weekly update on COVID-19 today, the World Health Organization (WHO) said cases dropped 76% over the last 28 days, compared to the previous 28 days, with deaths down 66% over the same period. The WHO included caveats that the numbers are underestimates due to reduced testing and delays in reporting.
Cases declined in all world regions, and deaths fell in all regions except the Eastern Mediterranean.
In its variant update, the WHO said Omicron recombinants, mostly XBB.1.5, make up a growing proportion and are at 41.5%, up from 18.7% in the first half of January. XBF, added a few weeks ago as a variant under monitoring, makes up an estimated 1.2% of sequenced samples.
In a separate report, an updated assessment of XBB.1.5 from the WHO's technical advisory group on SARS-CoV-2 evolution said the subvariant is likely to fuel an increase in cases, given strong evidence of higher transmissibility and moderate-strength evidence of immune evasion. So far, XBB.1.5 doesn't appear to pose an additional public health risk over other currently circulating Omicron lineages, the group said.
Seeking EUA for 4th vaccine dose in preschoolers
In other COVID developments, Pfizer and BioNTech announced today that they have submitted an application for emergency use authorization (EUA) for their bivalent COVID vaccine as a fourth (booster) dose in kids younger than 5 who have already received their primary series.
The vaccine is already authorized as the third dose of a three-dose primary series for kids in the age-group.