WHO / HEALTH EMERGENCIES UPDATE

04-Jan-2023 00:04:11
WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, “We continue to ask China for more rapid, regular, reliable data on hospitalizations and deaths, as well as more comprehensive, real-time viral sequencing. WHO is concerned about the risk to life in China and has reiterated the importance of vaccination.” WHO
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STORY: WHO / HEALTH EMERGENCIES UPDATE
TRT:4:11
SOURCE: WHO
RESTRICTIONS: NONE
LANGUAGE: ENGLISH / NATS

DATELINE: 04 JANUARY 2022, GENEVA, SWITZERLAND
SHOTLIST
1.Wide shot, press briefing room
2.SOUNDBITE (English) Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General:
“WHO is working as always to improve access and on Christmas Day announced that the antivirals Nirmatrelvir (Nir-ma-trel-vir) and Ritonavir (Rit-on-a-vir) were prequalified for production by an Indian manufacturer. This is the first generic version of an antiviral to get WHO approval and should lead to increased production and access; particularly in lower- and middle-income countries.”
3. Wide shot, press briefing room
4.SOUNDBITE (English) Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General:
“Despite clear progress, the threat of COVID-19 persists. There are still major inequities in access to testing, treatment and vaccination and ultimately COVID-19 remains a dangerous virus to our health, economies and societies overall. Every week, approximately ten thousand people die of COVID-19, that we are aware of. The true toll is likely much higher.”
5.Wide shot, press briefing room
6.SOUNDBITE (English) Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General:
“In recent weeks, there has been increasing reports of hospitalization and health system pressure, particularly, in temperate regions of the northern hemisphere where respiratory diseases including flu are also circulating.”

7.Wide shot, press briefing room
8.SOUNDBITE (English) Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General:
“We continue to ask China for more rapid, regular, reliable data on hospitalizations and deaths, as well as more comprehensive, real-time viral sequencing. WHO is concerned about the risk to life in China and has reiterated the importance of vaccination, including booster doses, to protect against hospitalization, severe disease, and death. This is especially important for older people, those with underlying medical conditions, and others who are at higher risk of severe outcomes.”
9. Wide shot, press briefing room
10.SOUNDBITE (English) Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General:
“Outside of China, one of the Omicron sub variants originally detected in October 2022 is XBB.1.5 a recombinant of two BA.2 sub-lineages. It is on the increase in Europe and the US and has now been identified in more than 25 countries. WHO is following closely and assessing the risk of this subvariant and will report accordingly.”

11. Wide shot, press briefing room
12. SOUNDBITE (English) Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, Technical Lead Covid-19, WHO Health Emergencies Programme:
“XBB.1.5 has been detected in 29 countries so far. There may be more as sequencing becomes less and less available at a global level, it is difficult for us to track each of these sub variants of Omicron.”

13. Wide shot, press briefing room
14. SOUNDBITE (English) Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, Technical Lead Covid-19, WHO Health Emergencies Programme:
“Our concern is how transmissible it is. It does have immune escape like we have seen with XBB. But it is another sub variant of Omicron which is in circulation and the more this virus circulates, the more opportunities it will have to change. We do expect further waves of infection around the world but that doesn't have to translate into further waves of death because our counter measures continue to work.”
15. Wide shot, press briefing room
16. SOUNDBITE (English) Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, Technical Lead Covid-19, WHO Health Emergencies Programme:
“We do note there is increasing hospitalizations have been reported in the northeast part of the US, where approximately 70 percent or so, I should check the exact data, of sequences available from that part of the country are XBB.1.5. What you have to also note is that there are many other respiratory viruses that are in circulation, not just COVID-19 that is increasing around the world. We just had the holidays so many people came together and so we expect transmission to increase. That will result in increasing hospitalizations. We do also have influenza that is in circulation and other pathogens that are in circulation. So we can’t attribute the increase excess in hospitalizations to XBB.1.5 yet but we are working US CDC colleagues closely and we have asked them for a detailed risk assessment of XBB.1.5 as well.”
17. Wide shot, press briefing room
STORYLINE
WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, “We continue to ask China for more rapid, regular, reliable data on hospitalizations and deaths, as well as more comprehensive, real-time viral sequencing. WHO is concerned about the risk to life in China and has reiterated the importance of vaccination.”

Speaking to reporters in Geneva today (04 Jan), Tedros said, “WHO is working as always to improve access and on Christmas Day announced that the antivirals Nirmatrelvir (Nir-ma-trel-vir) and Ritonavir (Rit-on-a-vir) were prequalified for production by an Indian manufacturer. This is the first generic version of an antiviral to get WHO approval and should lead to increased production and access; particularly in lower- and middle-income countries.”

Tedros also said, “despite clear progress, the threat of COVID-19 persists. There are still major inequities in access to testing, treatment and vaccination and ultimately COVID-19 remains a dangerous virus to our health, economies and societies overall.”

He added, “Every week, approximately ten thousand people die of COVID-19, that we are aware of. The true toll is likely much higher.”

Tedros also said, “In recent weeks, there has been increasing reports of hospitalization and health system pressure, particularly, in temperate regions of the northern hemisphere where respiratory diseases including flu are also circulating.”

Outside of China, the WHO’s chief said, “one of the Omicron sub variants originally detected in October 2022 is XBB.1.5 a recombinant of two BA.2 sub-lineages. It is on the increase in Europe and the US and has now been identified in more than 25 countries.”

He added, “WHO is following closely and assessing the risk of this subvariant and will report accordingly.”


WHO’s Dr Maria Van Kerkhove also spoke to reporters.

She said, “XBB.1.5 has been detected in 29 countries so far. There may be more as sequencing becomes less and less available at a global level, it is difficult for us to track each of these sub variants of Omicron.”

Dr Kerkhove also said, “Our concern is how transmissible it is. It does have immune escape like we have seen with XBB. But it is another sub variant of Omicron which is in circulation and the more this virus circulates, the more opportunities it will have to change.”

She added, “We do expect further waves of infection around the world but that doesn't have to translate into further waves of death because our counter measures continue to work.”

The WHO’s Technical Lead on Covid-19 also said, “there are many other respiratory viruses that are in circulation, not just COVID-19 that is increasing around the world.”

She continued, “We just had the holidays so many people came together and so we expect transmission to increase. That will result in increasing hospitalizations.”

Dr Kerkhove added that there is increasing hospitalizations have been reported in the northeast part of the US, adding that “We do also have influenza that is in circulation and other pathogens that are in circulation. So we can’t attribute the increase excess in hospitalizations to XBB.1.5 yet but we are working US CDC colleagues closely and we have asked them for a detailed risk assessment of XBB.1.5 as well.”
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