WHAT ABOUT US IN THE SOUTHERN HEMISPHERE?
Kluge said countries south of the equator are battling a “very active flu season” that is putting health services under pressure.
“The southern hemisphere, where it is winter, is experiencing a very active influenza season which, together with Covid-19, is putting a continued strain on health systems.”
WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT BA.2 AND BA.5?
In February the WHO noted BA.2 as a variant of concern and said it should continue to be monitored as a distinct sub-lineage of Omicron by public health authorities.
It said at the time it was more infectious than earlier Omicron sub-lineages and, in the time examined, prior infection from Omicron appeared to provide strong protection against reinfection.
A study published in the medical journal The Lancet, comparing BA.2 to infections by its earlier sub-lineage in SA found severity was not very different. It said people with comorbidities remained the most vulnerable, while vaccination remained the most effective protection against the virus.
Professor at the Human Vaccine Institute at Duke University Medical Centre in the US, David Montefiori, told NBC News BA.5 appears to evade protection from vaccines and previous infections more easily than variants before it. This was also noted in an article by Yale Medicine.
According to the Zoe Covid-19 Symptom Study, the most common symptoms in areas where BA.2 and BA.5 are prevalent are a runny nose, sore throat, headache, persistent cough and fatigue.
Support independent journalism by subscribing to the Sunday Times. Just R20 for the first month.