January 12, local time, the World Health Organization held an online meeting with more than 1,750 scientists from 124 countries to strengthen global cooperation in research on variant coronaviruses.
According to the information released by WHO, the meeting focused on the current knowledge limitations of variant COVID-19, and stressed the importance of strengthening research on variant COVID-19 and understanding the impact of variant COVID-19 on viral diagnosis, treatment and vaccine as soon as possible.
Scientists pointed out at the meeting that research on variant COVID-19 should be integrated into the global research and innovation agenda, while strengthening coordination and cooperation across disciplines.
Anna Mariah Enao Restrepo, head of the WHO R&D Blueprint, said that “a global mechanism must be established as soon as possible to quickly identify and study variant COVID-19 and understand their potential impact on disease control efforts”.
In mid-December 2020, the UK first discovered a variant novel coronavirus, which was found to significantly increase in its infectivity. Another variant of COVID-19 was also reported in South Africa during the same period.
In the following period, these two variant COVID-19 spread to many countries around the world, causing widespread concern. On January 11, Japan reported the discovery of another new variant of the novel coronavirus.
At the meeting on January 12, WHO experts said that mutations in the virus are very common, and most of the variant found so far only enhance their transmission, but do not aggravate the condition of infected patients.
However, WHO pointed out that the wider the spread of COVID-19, the more likely it is to have new mutations, so the virus sequence of COVID-19 needs to be monitored.
Maria van Cochhaus, WHO’s head of COVID-19 technology, said, “So far, 350,000 genetic sequences of COVID-19 have been publicly shared, but most of them come from only a few countries.
Improving the geographical coverage of gene sequencing is essential for the world to monitor virus changes.” WHO has made increasing gene sequencing capacity a priority research area.
While the variant coronavirus is causing anxiety, the global epidemic is still spreading rapidly.
According to WHO statistics, as of the afternoon of January 13, Central European time, the cumulative number of confirmed cases and deaths worldwide exceeded 9.95 million.