The decline in Covid cases and deaths reported in the world continues, but with a rise in infections in Europe. In the 28 days from February 6 to March 5, around 4.5 million cases and 32 thousand deaths were recorded globally, equal to -58% and -65% respectively compared to the previous 28 days. As of March 5, since the beginning of the pandemic there are over 759 million confirmed infections and over 6.8 million deaths. This is what emerges from the bulletin released by the World Health Organization.
Once again WHO reiterates that “current trends are underreporting of the true number of infections and reinfections” from Sars-CoV-2, “as prevalence surveys show. This is in part due to reduced testing and reporting delays in many countries. The data presented may be incomplete and therefore should be interpreted with caution”, warns the Geneva agency which, in monitoring changes in epidemiological trends, now makes comparisons on 28-day intervals because “this helps to take into account the reporting delays, smooth out weekly fluctuations in the number of infections and provide a clearer picture of where the pandemic is accelerating or decelerating.”
Regionally, new cases decreased in the last 28 days in 5 of 6 WHO regions (-80% Western Pacific, -61% Africa, -31% Americas, -15% Southeast Asia, -9% Eastern Mediterranean), while they increased by 12% in Europe; new deaths decreased in 5 regions (-86% Western Pacific, -73% Africa, -51% Southeast Asia, -39% Europe and -32% Americas), while they increased by 18% in the eastern Mediterranean. For Italy, again in the last 28 days, WHO reports a 47% drop in the number of deaths.
Over the past 28 days, the highest number of new Covid cases was reported by the United States (1,027,596, -23%), Japan (539,251, -78%), China (454,575, -87%), Germany (379,505, -87%). +23%) and the Russian Federation (345,384, +103%), while the USA (10,856, -29%), Japan (3,432, -65%), China (2,634, -94%) leads the way for deaths reported United Kingdom (2,103, -37%) and Brazil (1,931, -25%).
For the European region, the WHO report indicates over 1.5 million infections and 9,066 deaths in the last 28 days. Nineteen countries recorded increases of 20% or more in new cases, with the highest increases reported by Kyrgyzstan (+575%), Poland (+316%) and Moldova (+196%). The highest number of new infections was reported by Germany (379,505, 456.3/100,000, +23%), the Russian Federation (345,384, 236.7/100,000, +103%) and Austria (138,388, 1,554.7/ 100 thousand, +86%), while in the lead for new deaths are the United Kingdom (2,103, 3.1/100 thousand, -37%), the Russian Federation (1,019, less than 1/100 thousand) and Italy (963, 1.6 /100 thousand, -47%).
COVID VARIANTS – Kraken (XBB.1.5) is the most widespread Covid variant globally. Although its presence has been recorded in 79 countries, against the 133 that have reported the Cerberus family, its prevalence is given to 32% of the viral sequencing collected in week number 7 of 2023 (from 13 to 19 February). The World Health Organization in its weekly update on Covid-19 explains that Kraken “shows an increasing trend”, having gone from 17.98% in week 3 (January 16-22) to 31.98% in week 7 (although the latter figure is slightly lower than the 35.7% recorded in week 6). But, the UN health agency points out, “currently available information does not suggest that XBB.1.5 has a higher clinical severity” than the other circulating Omicron sublineages.
In the last 5 weeks – the report recalls – WHO is currently monitoring a variant of concern, namely Omicron, and 7 of its subvariants, including the recombinant Kraken. These subvariants are monitored for their observed transmissibility advantage over other SARS-CoV-2 mutants and for additional amino acid changes that are known or suspected to confer a fitness advantage.
Globally, from 6 February to 6 March 2023, therefore in 28 days, 59,294 Sars-CoV-2 sequences were shared via the Gisaid database, of which 99.6% were from the Omicron maxi family. Since the last update on March 1, there has been a continuing upward trend in shares of recombinants globally: in week number 7 they accounted for 44.1% of all sequences, up from 25.1% recorded in week 3. Omicron 1 (BA.1), Omicron 3 (BA.3), and Omicron 4 (BA.4) collectively accounted for less than 0.1%. Unassigned sequences (all presumed Omicrons awaiting descendant lineage assignment) grew significantly within a week, from a prevalence of 9.16% at week 6 to 14.5% of shared sequences at week 7.
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