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Globally, the number of new weekly cases has continued to decline since the peak in January 2022. During the week of 30 May to 5 June 2022, over three million cases were reported, a 12% decrease as compared to the previous week (figure 1). The number of new weekly deaths also continues to decline, with over 7 600 fatalities reported, representing a 22% decrease as compared to the previous week.
At the regional level, the numbers of new weekly cases increased in the Eastern Mediterranean Region (+19%) and South-East Asia Region (+1%), while they decreased in the other four WHO regions. The number of new weekly deaths increased in the Western Pacific Region (+7%), while decreasing trends were observed in the other five regions.
As of 5 June 2022, over 529 million confirmed cases and over six million deaths have been reported globally. These trends should be interpreted with caution as several countries have been progressively changing COVID-19testing strategies, resulting in lower overall numbers of tests performed and consequently lower numbers of cases detected.
At the country level, the highest number of new weekly cases were reported in the United States of America (657 268 new cases; -11%),China (528 432 new cases; -8%), Australia (221 935 new cases; -25%),Brazil (216 334 new cases; +36%),and Germany (215 955 new cases; +16%).
The highest number of new weekly deaths were reported in the United States of America (1 703 new deaths; -33%), China (910 new deaths; +57%), Brazil (652 new deaths;-21%), the Russian Federation (565 new deaths; -7%), and Italy (380 new deaths; -39%).
WHO, in collaboration with national authorities, institutions and researchers, routinely assesses if variants of SARS- CoV-2 alter transmission or disease characteristics, or impact the effectiveness of vaccines, therapeutics, diagnostics or public health and social measures(PHSM) applied to control disease spread. Potential variants of concern (VOCs), variants of interest (VOIs) or variants under monitoring (VUMs) are regularly assessed based on the risk posed to global public health.
The classifications of variants will be revised as needed to reflect the continuous evolution of circulating variants and their changing epidemiology. Criteria for variant classification, and the lists of currently circulating and previously circulating VOCs, VOIs and VUMs, are available on the WHO TrackingSARS-CoV-2 variants website. National authorities may choose to designate other variants and are strongly encouraged to investigate and report newly emerging variants and their impact.
The Omicron VOC continues to be the dominant variant circulating globally, accounting for nearly all sequences reported to GISAID in the last 30 days. Due to very low circulation among sequences submitted to GISAID in the last three months, Delta is now categorized by WHO as a ‘previously circulating VOC,’ in the same way that Alpha, Beta and Gamma are categorized. Importantly however this does not imply that previously circulating VOCs cannot resurge in the future and WHO will continue to monitor using available data.
Among Omicron lineages, as of epidemiological week 20 (15 to 21 May 2020), BA.2 and its descendent lineages (pooled lineages named BA.2.X) are declining but remain dominant, accounting for 44% and 19% respectively (figure4, Table 2). Several variants with preliminary evidence of a growth advantage over other Omicron lineages show a global prevalence of <1% and are no longer rising, namely BA.2.11, BA.2.13, and BA.2.9.1. These lineages have in common the acquisition of a mutation at the locus S:L452X. Former dominant Omicron lineages BA.1, BA.1.1. BA.1.Xand BA.3 sublineages have declined to <1%.
Globally, BA.2.12.1, BA.5, and BA.4 variants are rising in prevalence. As of week 20, BA.2.12.1 (detected in 53 countries) has reached a prevalence of 28%, a prevalence that may be largely attributed to an initial rapid increase in the Region of the Americas. BA.5 (detected in 47 countries)and BA.4 (detected in 42 countries) account for 4% and 2% of circulating variants, respectively. All three variants carry the signature mutation at locus S:L452 that is thought to confer greater transmissibility through higher cell fusogenicity and immune escape characteristics. Accumulating evidence from several countries indicates that there has been no observed increase in severity associated with BA.5 and BA.4.1 No evidence is available at the current time on disease severity associated with BA.2.12.1.
As for the recombinant variants of SARS-CoV-2 detected in early 2022, including recombinants of known VOCs,a few had characteristics indicative of a potential for increased transmissibility; however, this did not translate into a widespread. The number of SARS-CoV-2recombinant sequences submitted to GISAID which were being monitored by WHO or which showed an initial rise in the number of sequences reported (XE, XD and XF) continues to decline weekly, now representing <0.1% of sequences submitted during week 20.
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