After many weeks of downfall, the Covid graph is plateauing again across countries including China, Korea and Hong Kong. 

South Korea reported a record of more than 600,000 coronavirus cases Thursday, with authorities saying the country was near the peak of an Omicron-fuelled infection wave.

According to WHO data, South Korea leads the world in newly reported cases in the last seven days with 2,417,174 infections, followed by Vietnam with 1,776,045.

The 621,328 case tally recorded Thursday is South Korea’s highest daily figure since the pandemic began.

While 30 million people are forced under lockdown in China and morgues running out of space in Hong Kong, the pandemic doesn’t appear to be heading towards its end.

The strain, combining two sub-variants of the Omicron version of the Covid-19 virus, was recorded during PCR tests on two passengers arriving at Israel’s Ben Gurion airport.

Israel has recorded two cases of a new variant, which is a combination of two sub-variants of the Omicron version of the Covid-19 , but which officials say they are not unduly worried about.

A new wave of infections from the Omicron is moving towards the east of Europe as cases have more than doubled in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Russia and Ukraine, according to WHO.

Amid the new surge and concern over the new strain, News18 looks at the surge, the WHO’s response and whether a second booster would curb the new wave

The World Health Organization voiced alarm that Covid cases are once again surging globally, despite testing levels dropping significantly.

After falling since January, Covid cases rose globally by eight percent last week, with more than 11 million cases and over 43,000 new deaths registered, WHO said.

Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO’s technical lead on Covid-19, lamented the global rise and added that the surge came “despite a significant reduction in testing that’s occurring worldwide”. She highlighted that the Omicron variant was still spreading “at a very intense level around the world”.

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus seconding the sudden rise said that the lack of visibility due to reduced testing meant “the cases we are seeing are just the tip of the iceberg.” “We call on all countries to remain vigilant,” he said, stressing “the pandemic is not over”.

A fourth dose of existing mRNA Covid-19 vaccines may have only “marginal benefits” for younger, healthy adults, according to a new study. 

The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, assessed 270 health care workers at the Sheba Medical Center in Tel Aviv who received a second booster shot of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, four months after initially getting three Pfizer shots.

The fourth shot was found to be safe, and topped up recipients’ neutralizing antibodies  which block the coronavirus from infecting cells  to levels comparable to just after the third dose, prior to when antibody levels started waning with time. 

Any fourth dose boosters will be more beneficial to the older and more vulnerable groups or those with comorbidities, the study suggested.