The newly discovered coronavirus strains, with the potential to spread faster than the one that appeared in China in 2019, are causing the number of cases to skyrocket and many countries are forced to re-apply the blockade.
The WHO Emergency Committee usually meets every three months, but WHO said the organization’s director-general pushed up the meeting schedule early “to consider issues that need urgent discussion”.
“The meeting discusses recent strains and considerations on the use of vaccines and certification testing for global travel,” WHO said on January 13.
There is growing concern that new strains could reduce some vaccines’ effectiveness, losing hope that vaccination is the best chance for global epidemic control.
After the meeting, the Committee of Experts of the Committee will make recommendations to the countries.
The meeting comes as the global number of cases has surpassed 91 million and the death toll approaches 2 million. Governments around the world are re-applying economic blockade and social restraint.
Virus strain variables can only be detected by sequencing their genetic code, a technique that is not possible everywhere.
A new strain, which originated in the Amazon forests in Brazil and discovered by Japan, is being analyzed and could affect the body’s immune response, WHO said.