During the boreal summer, a notable increase in the spread of a new variant of the virus has been observed in various nations, such as the United States, the United Kingdom, and France. In the period from July 10 to August 6, about 1.5 million cases were recorded, representing an 80% increase compared to the previous month, according to the weekly report of the World Health Organization (WHO). However, the number of deaths reached 57%, standing at 2,500.
The WHO stresses that these figures do not accurately reflect the true dimension of the situation due to the decline in diagnostic tests and monitoring of the pandemic. In the Western Pacific region, a 137% increase in infections has been reported over the past month.
Countries like the United States, the United Kingdom, France, India, and Japan have also seen increases in cases, albeit with a more moderate escalation. Although the WHO has no longer considered the pandemic a global health emergency since May, its director general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, stressed that the virus continues to circulate, cause deaths, and evolve.
The EG.5 variant, known as Eris by some experts, has attracted particular attention due to its possible involvement in the resurgence of cases. More than 17% of COVID-19 cases reported in July are attributed to this variant, compared to 7.6% the previous month. Although EG.5 appears to be more transmissible than other variants, it has not been associated with specific symptoms or increased virulence.
The importance of vaccination persists, and the WHO calls for intensifying efforts to increase vaccination coverage. Although the efficacy of anticovid vaccines decreases over time with respect to infection, they remain highly protective against severe forms of the disease. Given the modifications to the virus, pharmaceutical companies such as Pfizer, BioNTech, Moderna, and Novavax are developing vaccines directed at the XBB line, as the WHO achieved in the spring.
As nations prepare for flu vaccination and prevention campaigns in the fall, experts like Antoine Flahault, director of the Institute for Global Health at the University of Geneva, stress the importance of restoring strong sanitation, including through surveillance wastewater analysis.