WHO emergency committee to meet early over new coronavirus strains
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WHO emergency committee to meet early over new coronavirus strains

Credit: Belga

The World Health Organisation’s (WHO) emergency committee will meet on Thursday, two weeks ahead of schedule, to discuss the new coronavirus strains, which are worrying authorities around the world.

The committee normally meets every three months, but the meeting was moved to an earlier date “to consider issues that need urgent discussion,” according to a statement issued on Wednesday.

According to the WHO, the coronavirus variant found in the UK has now spread to 50 countries, and the South-African variant is present in 20 countries, but the organisation considers that this estimate is very probably underestimated, as variants of the virus can only be identified by sequencing their genetic code, which cannot be done everywhere.

A third mutation, originating in the Amazon in Brazil, is currently being analysed and could have an impact on the immune response, according to the WHO, which mentions it in its weekly bulletin as a worrying variant.

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Recommendations for WHO and member countries will be published at the end of the meeting, according to the statement.

The new strains prompted many countries including Belgium to tighten travel restrictions, and some experts in Belgium have even called for border closures.

Based on the WHO’s data, 90,335,008 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed around the world, and 1,954,336 have lost their lives to the virus.

Jason Spinks
The Brussels Times