WHO / COVID-19 UPDATE

25-Aug-2023 00:04:13
The World Health Organization’s (WHO) top official said that “COVID remains a global health threat” and called on all countries “to strengthen surveillance, sequencing and reporting so we can assess the risk of new variants such as EG.5 and BA.2.86”. WHO
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STORY: WHO / COVID-19 UPDATE
TRT: 04:13
SOURCE: WHO
RESTRICTIONS: NONE
LANGUAGE: ENGLISH / NATS

DATELINE: 25 AUGUST 2023, GENEVA, SWITZERLAND / FILE
SHOTLIST
FILE – GENEVA, SWITZERLAND

1. Wide shot, exterior, WHO Headquarters

25 AUGUST 2023, GENEVA, SWITZERLAND

3. Wide shot, briefing room
4. SOUNDBITE (English) Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General, World Health Organization (WHO):
“COVID remains a global health threat. Although data available to WHO continues to decline, we have seen increasing reports of hospitalizations, ICU admissions and deaths in some countries. We continue to call on all countries to strengthen surveillance, sequencing and reporting so we can assess the risk of new variants such as EG.5 and BA.2.86. And we continue to call on all countries to implement the standing recommendations to save lives and prevent the burden of long COVID.”
5. Med shot, briefing room
6. SOUNDBITE (English) Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, Technical Lead COVID-19, Health Emergencies Programme, World Health Organization (WHO):
“BA.2.86 has more than 30 mutations in the spike protein. While we have only detected so far around 9 or 10 cases of BA.2.86, we felt that this warrants closer monitoring because of the sheer volume of change that we’ve seen. Now, right now, we’ve seen detection of BA.2.86 in Denmark, Israel, the UK, USA, South Africa and we have evidence of BA.2.86 also in Switzerland and Thailand in waste water sampling.”
7. Med shot, briefing room
8. SOUNDBITE (English) Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, Technical Lead COVID-19, Health Emergencies Programme, World Health Organization (WHO):
“Surveillance is really important so we can track trends and we can understand severity, we can understand its impact in the population at a population level. While we are certainly not in the same situation of the pandemic than we were in a year ago or two years ago, SARS-CoV-2 circulates in all countries.”
9. Med shot, briefing room
10. SOUNDBITE (English) Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, Technical Lead COVID-19, Health Emergencies Programme, World Health Organization (WHO):
“Out of 234 countries and territories, WHO has data on cases in 103 of those. That does not mean that the virus is not circulating in a number of countries that are not reporting. We only have data on hospitalisations from 19 countries and territories. We have data from 17 countries on ICU, and we have data on deaths from 54 countries. This is out of 234 countries and territories.”
11. Med shot, briefing room
12. SOUNDBITE (English) Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, Technical Lead COVID-19, Health Emergencies Programme, World Health Organization (WHO):
“Your likelihood of developing severe disease and dying is reduced with vaccines, the many safe and effective vaccines that are in circulation, that are in use right now. Early access to clinical care and antivirals reduces the risk of developing severe disease. So that's what is important for the general public in our view. We will give a few profiles and do a risk assessment of BA.2.86 as soon as we have more information. We expect the number of cases to be increased because we classified it as a variant under monitoring and there could be more detections in countries from wastewater surveillance.”
13. Med shot, briefing room
14. SOUNDBITE (English) Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, Technical Lead COVID-19, Health Emergencies Programme, World Health Organization (WHO):
“Our Greek letters are reserved for those that are classified as variants of concern and we feel that's really important. There are a lot of nicknames that are being used for the variants, we understand that, that are being used in the media, but for our communication purposes we will use a Greek letter when we have a variant of concern and we won't hesitate to use those Greek letters should they be needed.”
15. Med shot, briefing room
16. SOUNDBITE (English) Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General, World Health Organization (WHO):
“In May of this year, I declared an end to mpox as a public health emergency of international concern. The number of reported cases, hospitalizations and deaths globally has declined steadily since August last year. However, we have seen a significant increase in cases in the last two months in Asia, and cases continue to be reported regularly in Africa.”
17. Med shot, briefing room
18. SOUNDBITE (English) Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General, World Health Organization (WHO):
“As I did with COVID, I established a review committee to advise me on standing recommendations to support countries to manage mpox in the long-term. On Tuesday this week, on the advice of the committee, I issued those recommendations, in seven major areas.”
19. Wide shot, briefing room
STORYLINE
The World Health Organization’s (WHO) top official said that COVID remains a global health threat. WHO calls on all countries “to strengthen surveillance, sequencing and reporting so we can assess the risk of new variants such as EG.5 and BA.2.86”.

Briefing journalists on Friday (25 Aug) in Geneva, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO's Director-General, said, “although data available to WHO continues to decline, we have seen increasing reports of hospitalizations, ICU admissions and deaths in some countries.”

He added, “and we continue to call on all countries to implement the standing recommendations to save lives and prevent the burden of long COVID.”

Maria Van Kerkhove, Technical Lead COVID-19, WHO Health Emergencies Programme, said, "BA.2.86 has more than 30 mutations in the spike protein. While we have only detected so far around 9 or 10 cases of BA.2.86, we felt that this warrants closer monitoring because of the sheer volume of change that we’ve seen.”

She added, “now, right now, we’ve seen detection of BA.2.86 in Denmark, Israel, the UK, USA, South Africa and we have evidence of BA.2.86 also in Switzerland and Thailand in waste water sampling.”

According to her, “Surveillance is really important so we can track trends and we can understand severity, we can understand its impact in the population at a population level.”

While we are certainly not in the same situation of the pandemic than we were in a year ago or two years ago, SARS-CoV-2 circulates in all countries.”

Van Kerkhove added, “while we are certainly not in the same situation of the pandemic than we were in a year ago or two years ago, SARS-CoV-2 circulates in all countries.”

Out of 234 countries and territories, WHO has data on cases in 103 of those. “That does not mean that the virus is not circulating in a number of countries that are not reporting. We only have data on hospitalisations from 19 countries and territories,” Van Kerkhove said.

She noted, “we have data from 17 countries on ICU, and we have data on deaths from 54 countries. This is out of 234 countries and territories.”

According to WHO’s representative, “Your likelihood of developing severe disease and dying is reduced with vaccines, the many safe and effective vaccines that are in circulation, that are in use right now. Early access to clinical care and antivirals reduces the risk of developing severe disease. So that's what is important for the general public in our view.”

She continued, “we will give a few profiles and do a risk assessment of BA.2.86 as soon as we have more information. We expect the number of cases to be increased because we classified it as a variant under monitoring and there could be more detections in countries from wastewater surveillance.”

The Technical Lead also said, “Our Greek letters are reserved for those that are classified as variants of concern and we feel that's really important. There are a lot of nicknames that are being used for the variants, we understand that, that are being used in the media, but for our communication purposes we will use a Greek letter when we have a variant of concern and we won't hesitate to use those Greek letters should they be needed.”

“In May of this year, I declared an end to mpox as a public health emergency of international concern. The number of reported cases, hospitalizations and deaths globally has declined steadily since August last year. However, we have seen a significant increase in cases in the last two months in Asia, and cases continue to be reported regularly in Africa.”

The WHO chief Tedros added, “In May of this year, I declared an end to mpox as a public health emergency of international concern. The number of reported cases, hospitalizations and deaths globally has declined steadily since August last year. However, we have seen a significant increase in cases in the last two months in Asia, and cases continue to be reported regularly in Africa.”

He concluded, “As I did with COVID, I established a review committee to advise me on standing recommendations to support countries to manage mpox in the long-term. On Tuesday this week, on the advice of the committee, I issued those recommendations, in seven major areas.”
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