A dramatic drop in testing for COVID-19 has left the world blind to the virus’s continuing rampage and its potentially dangerous mutations, the WHO warned Tuesday (April 26).
“Last week, just over 15,000 deaths were reported to WHO – the lowest weekly total since March 2020,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters.
While this is “a very welcome trend,” he warned that the declining numbers could also be a result of significant cuts in testing for the virus, which “makes us increasingly blind to patterns of transmission and evolution.”
William Rodriguez, head of the global diagnostics alliance FIND, pointed out that in the past four months, amid surging Covid cases from the Omicron variant, “testing rates have plummeted by 70 to 90 per cent worldwide.”
“We have an unprecedented ability to know what is happening, and yet today because testing has been the first casualty of a global decision to let down our guard, we’re becoming blind to what is happening with this virus,” he said.
“This virus won’t go away just because countries stop looking for it,” Tedros said, pointing out that “it is still spreading, it is still changing, and it is still killing,” and that “the threat of a dangerous new variant remains very real.”