The public health dangers posed by the COVID-19 virus remain significant worldwide, with the virus circulating in all nations, according to a senior World Health Organization researcher.
According to estimations based on wastewater analysis, the real circulation of COVID-19 is two to 19 times greater than the number of recorded cases, according to Maria van Kerkhove, WHO’s temporary director responsible for epidemic and pandemic preparation and prevention.
She also expressed concerns regarding the emergence of post-COVID conditions affecting multiple organs.
While there has been a drastic reduction in COVID-related deaths since the peak, around 10,000 deaths per month are still reported from 50 countries.
Van Kerkhove expressed concerns about the evolving nature of the virus, with the COVID-19 JN.1 variant representing around 57 percent of global sequences analyzed by the WHO.
Defined by specific criteria, including symptoms like severe fatigue, lung impairments, neurologic issues, and cardiac impairments persisting for four to 12 months or longer after the acute phase of the disease, the post-COVID condition is a matter of concern, she said.
Estimates suggest that one in ten infections could lead to post-COVID conditions, including severe cases.
The expert also emphasized the importance of concurrent flu and COVID vaccination to reduce the load on health-care systems.
She also advocated for increased booster immunization, which is currently at a low level worldwide, with only 55% of older persons (those aged 75 or 80) having had a dose.
Over 7 million people have died from COVID-19 by the end of December 2023, according to the WHO.