Global COVID cases, deaths continue to drop

COVID vaccination

Edwin J. Torres, NJ Governor's Office / Flickr cc

Monthly averages for new COVID-19 cases and deaths continue to decline steadily, the World Health Organization (WHO) said today in its latest pandemic update, though it cautioned that the trends are underestimated due to reduced testing and delayed reporting.

Cases down 89%, deaths down 62%

Case were down 89% compared to 28 days ago, with the declines seen across all six world regions. Deaths were down 62% during the same period, with declines seen in all world regions except for the Eastern Mediterranean.

The five countries reporting the most cases are the United States, Japan, China, South Korea, and Germany. All of them, however, reported drops in cases over the past month.

In its variant update, the WHO said BA.5 Omicron subvariant levels continue to decline, offset by rises in recombinant subvariants, with XBB.1.5 the most common one at 29.6% and up from 26.1% the previous week. XBF, recently added as a subvariant under WHO monitoring, makes up 1.8% of sequences, up from 1.2% the week before.

Vaccines and lower risk of heart problems

At a WHO media briefing on a host of global health issues today, Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, PhD, referenced a new study that showed COVID-19 vaccination and boosting reduces the likelihood of stroke and heart attack in patients with COVID. He said the findings underscore why nations should continue their vaccination efforts, especially in high-risk groups.

Tedros also urged countries to strengthen surveillance and sequencing to help vaccines, therapies, and tests be evaluated and updated as quickly as needed.

Though the world is in a better place than it was 3 years ago, he warned people not to underestimate the virus. "It's therefore important to invest in research in order to develop vaccines that can provide broader protection and also reduce transmission," Tedros said.

Earlier this week, the WHO's technical advisory group on COVID-19 vaccine composition emphasized the need for surveillance to guide future updates and to assess their effectiveness. Yesterday, the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP), which publishes CIDRAP News, released a roadmap for advancing the development of better coronavirus vaccines, including versions that would protect against all SARS-CoV-2 subvariants. The effort was the result of input from a 50-member expert group

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