The next wave of the COVID-19 pandemic has emerged in many European Union countries. Omicron sub-variants BA.4 and BA.5 are responsible for the increase in infections. According to the World Health Organization, after several months of declines, the number of new infections worldwide is rising for the fourth consecutive week.
The omicron variant is still dominant worldwide, accounting for 92 percent of the sequences reported in June for the global genome data collection coronavirus GISAID databases. The share of the two very infectious sub-variants BA.5 and BA.4 is growing – the former was detected in 83 countries and accounted for 52 percent of all sequences in GISAID in the last week of June. BA.4, on the other hand, has been detected in 73 countries and now accounts for 12 percent of the sequence.
EMA: The seventh wave of the pandemic in many EU countries
European Medicines Agency The (EMA) said on Thursday that the seventh wave of the pandemic has hit many EU countries and that the vaccines used so far, while still providing some protection and preventing hospitalization and death, are less effective against the BA.4 and BA.5 sub-variants.
Experts note that the epidemiological data available so far do not indicate that infections with these sub-variants caused a more severe course of the disease or proportionally more deaths than the previous variants. However, the rapid increase in the number of cases translates into an increasing number of hospitalizations.
The seventh wave of the pandemic in Europe
According WHO In the European region (which includes Europe, Russia, Central Asia and Israel for statistical purposes), half of the countries reported at least a 20 percent increase in the number of infections in the last week of June.
According to Our World in Data data, the highest number of infections per one million inhabitants was recorded in the past seven days in France (13.2 thousand), on Cyprus (12.1 thousand), in Greece (11.2 thousand) and in Italy (10.5 thousand), but they are also at the forefront in this respect Malta (8 thousand), Germany (7.5 thousand) i Portugal (6.2 thousand), and a bit further on the list Great Britain (2.8 thousand), the Netherlands (2.3 thousand), Denmark (2.4 thousand) i Finland (2.3 thousand).
In Poland last week was reported 122.8 infections per million inhabitants.
Average for the entire European Union was in the last week 6.2K infection per million inhabitants.
In Italy 8 percent of the cases currently detected are recurrences after infections from previous virus variants, so it seems that the dominant BA.5 sub-variant in this country is capable of overcoming the protection of previous disease.
Increase in infections worldwide
Another wave of omicron infections is currently undergoing New Zealand (13,000 infections per million inhabitants), which opened its borders to foreign visitors for the first time in two years in early May, and Australia (9.9 thousand), where from next week the fourth dose of the COVID-19 vaccine will be available to people over 30 years of age. Australia’s vaccine regulator has also cut the waiting time for another immunization from four to three months after the disease passed through.
Another countries that recorded very high infection rates in the past seven days are Singapore (11.3 thousand), Taiwan (9.5 thousand), Israel (7.8 thousand).
Over 12 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered worldwide, including over two billion booster doses. Two-thirds of the world’s population have received at least one dose of the vaccine, and now 5.54 million are given every day. Only a quarter of people in low-income countries received at least one dose.
For the most booster doses per 100 inhabitants, see Chile (130), Uruguay (81), at Malta (79), in Singapore (77) i South Korea (74). The EU average is 54.
Main photo source: PAP / DPA