Maria Van Kerkhove Profile picture
Infectious Disease Epidemiologist; COVID-19 Technical Lead, Emerging Diseases and Zoonoses Lead, WHO Health Emergencies Programme. Mom of 2. Opinions my own
DocM55 🌈🧬 Profile picture Jörg Honegger Profile picture Wayne Leng Profile picture 3 added to My Authors
Aug 7 4 tweets 2 min read
The next weeks & months are critical to be vigilant for #COVID19

As individuals: get vaccinated and take measures to reduce risk of (re)infection. Mask indoors when around others outside your immediate family. Distance. Test. Ventilate. Wash hands. Live life safely. Be kind.
Governments: reinforce surveillance, testing, sequencing, access to treatments & O2, vaccinate all at risk, surge capacities and PPE, invest in ventilation & in a strong protected work force. Ensure policies are agile to deal with epi, capacities & financial needs…
Jul 16 7 tweets 5 min read
🧵Brief thread on the circulation of SARS-CoV-2 variants

#Omicron and all of its sublineages are classified as VOC (Variants of concern) by @WHO. This includes BA.1, BA.2, BA.2.12.1, BA.2.75, BA.3, BA.4, #BA5 and many more

(Watch this video and keep reading 1/7) . @WHO is working with our TAG-VE (technical advisory group for virus evolution) to assess the genotypic and phenotypic characteristics of all variants we are monitoring (VOI, VOC, VUM) and comparing differences between variants (eg #BA5 vs BA2)…
Jul 10 7 tweets 4 min read
Reality check👇

#COVID19 deaths globally are at a similar level to March 2020. While deaths are now much lower than they have been at their peaks over the last 2.5 yrs, we must remember that in 3/20, we knew very little about this virus & we had no treatments & no vaccines
1/🧵 Now in July 2022, we have several life saving interventions that we are not utilising effectively nor consistently globally & deaths should be far lower at this point in the pandemic

It’s not over & are playing with fire by letting this virus circulate at such intense levels
Jun 29 5 tweets 4 min read
Globally, #COVID19 cases has increased for the 3rd consecutive week with >4.1million cases reported to @WHO (18%⬆️ compared to previous week). During the same week, 8,552 fatalities were reported.

We @WHO know both are underestimates and both cases & deaths are too high.

1/🧵 Global hot spots can be seen in these figures from our latest @WHO #COVID19 Weekly Epidemiological Update available here:… 2/
Jun 19 6 tweets 3 min read
We are not yet living with #COVID19 responsibly. Not even close.


↗️People are dying unnecessarily
↗️Millions infected each week
↗️Billions not fully vaccinated
↗️Lives & livelihoods suffering
↘️Dismantling systems needed to end the global emergency & fight the next one While some countries have managed to significantly reduce hospitalisations and deaths, many have not. Too many vulnerable people continue to be missed with vaccination, clinical care, tests, accurate & reliable information…

#VaccinEquity remains a significant problem globally
Mar 15 10 tweets 5 min read
We @WHO recognise the tremendous desire to move on from #COVID19, the difficulties to keep fighting & the enormous toll this has taken on our lives.

However, the pandemic will end with our actions & we have the power to take the death and devastation out of COVID.

Short🧵 There are alot of questions about what’s going on with #COVID19 so let’s break it down…

First, #Omicron is still spreading at a very intense level and we are starting to see an increase in cases after a few weeks of decline (this is despite big reductions in testing)
Feb 27 11 tweets 4 min read
(Unsurprisingly) I welcome further studies on the origins of #SARSCoV2

Short thread with initial thoughts on two preprints released yesterday. Bottom line: Keep following the science because many more studies are needed.

1/11 2/ Critical to any understanding of the emergence of a new pathogen are studies of the earliest known and suspected cases. Identifying the first human case of a new disease is EXTREMELY difficult, if not impossible.
Feb 8 5 tweets 4 min read
Short 🧵 on #omicron (filmed yesterday)

The global situation with #COVID19 is dynamic. @WHO Global COVID-19 epi situation available here…

1/5 2/5 What is #Omicron? And what about BA.2?
Jan 19 4 tweets 4 min read
Latest @WHO Weekly #COVID19 Epidemiological Update published last night (18.01.22)

Case reporting ⬆️ 20% globally in last week, w significant variation around the world.Deaths slightly increased w 45,543 people reported dead. Far far too many when tools can prevent #VaccinEquity In last 7 days, almost 19 million cases were reported to @WHO. True number of cases is higher & this spike is causing significant burden on health systems around the world bc hospitalisations are also increasing due to #Omicron.

NB variation in % case & death change by region
Dec 1, 2021 4 tweets 3 min read
🧵Almost 3.8 million new #COVID19 cases & 47,524 deaths were reported last week

The◼️ line is reporting deaths. This should be a much steeper decline bc of available COVID-19 vaccines. But its not bc the world is not prioritising vaccination in people at risk in ALL countries Important: Delta is dominant worldwide and needs to be controlled. What we do for Delta will benefit Omicron - no matter what we learn about this variant.

Right now, we need to continue to drive down transmission, drive up vaccination coverage in at risk populations.
Sep 26, 2021 10 tweets 5 min read
A couple of misrepresentations in the @WSJ article that I’d like to address… short thread⬇️ The @WHO SAGO is NOT the next mission team to China. It is an advisory group set up to establish a framework to study the origins of emerging and re-emerging pathogens of pandemic potential when they emerge.
Aug 31, 2021 4 tweets 3 min read
Short 🧵 on @WHO’s latest #COVID19 Epi update (available now)

Globally, trends continue to be worrying. Plateauing at more than 4.3 million cases each week and around 67k deaths is tragic - there is no easy way to say this.

Full sit rep here… In our update, we provide more info at regional levels, a summary of VOC geographic distribution and info on a new global classified VOI “Mu” B.1.621.

Some basics of Mu:
➡️1st identified in Colombia in Jan 2021
➡️Has mutations that warrant further study
(keep reading)
Aug 30, 2021 7 tweets 4 min read
Quick thread on the C.1.2 variant that has been in the news and on twitter today…

First remember that the more the virus spreads the more opportunity it has to change. We have the tools to prevent infections, reduce the spread & save lives - lets use them.

Keep reading… @WHO has regularly been discussing with South African researchers about theirr work on sequencing throughout the #COVID19 pandemic. 🙏 We are grateful for researchers in 🇿🇦 who first presented their findings on variant C.1.2 to the WHO Virus Evolution Working Group in July ‘21.
Aug 22, 2021 12 tweets 6 min read
On Friday, @WHO released a call for membership for the Scientific Advisory Group on the origins of novel pathogens – #SAGO.

I’ve received many messages this weekend (🙏), hence the short🧵but the punch line is: If you’re qualified, please apply.

Here is the call for applications with the details of how to apply, but lets take a closer look at the who, what, where, why and when (in a little different order)……
Aug 9, 2021 11 tweets 5 min read
Its all in data & analytics… while #COVID19 data is imperfect, its critical to regularly analyze, discuss and tailor our responses as, when and where needed. @WHO 1/11 Cases, hospitalizations, ICU capacities, deaths, risk factors, vaccination status, test +, vaccine efficacy, incidence, trends, transmission, attack rates, impact of interventions, research results, inequity, access, capacities, costs, etc analyzed by 100,000s around 🌎 daily. 2/
Jul 16, 2021 11 tweets 4 min read
Today was a really important step forward in work to better understand the origins of #SARSCoV2 & for the emergence of all future novel pathogens of epidemic & pandemic potential…

From the DG @DrTedros speech…… “Earlier this week, Member States received a circular letter detailing the proposed next steps that the (@WHO) Secretariat will take to advance those studies, in several areas…
Jul 15, 2021 5 tweets 3 min read
Statement on the eighth meeting of the International Health Regulations #IHR (2005) Emergency Committee regarding the coronavirus disease (#COVID19) pandemic @WHO… The @WHO secretariat highlighted factors driving the current situation including:
➡️variants of concern,
➡️inconsistent application of public health & social measures,
➡️increased social mixing & mobility, &
➡️highly susceptible pop due to lack of equitable vaccine distribution
Jul 6, 2021 10 tweets 8 min read
I’m struggling with how best to stress how fragile the global situation is, so I’ll be blunt:

Each week >2.6 million cases and >53,000 deaths are reported to @WHO

Reported, meaning that there are many others.

Stop and think about that.

(Short thread⬇️) Compared to last week, there has been about (exact % will be shared in tomorrow @WHO sit rep):
➡️ 15% increases in cases in @WHOAFRO
➡️ 29% increase in @WHO_Europe (last week was 10%⬆️)
➡️ 14% increase in @WHOEMRO
➡️ 7% increased in @WHOSEARO
➡️ 10% increase in @WHOWPRO
Jun 17, 2021 5 tweets 2 min read
NEW publication in Eurosurveillance

Increased transmissibility & global spread of #SARSCoV2 VOC & VOI

Estimated transmissibility increases of alpha 29% (95% CI: 24–33), beta 25% (95% CI: 20–30), gamma 38% (95% CI: 29–48) & delta 97% (95% CI: 76–117)

⬇️… ImageImageImage Conclusions: Rapid replacement means that epidemiological assessment of new variants must be conducted quickly and regularly if PHSM are to continue to reduce the spread of SARS-CoV-2.
Jun 14, 2021 13 tweets 8 min read
Short 🧵

There is a lot of concern over the Delta (B.1.617.2) variant and there should be. The #SARSCoV2 virus is dangerous, & more transmissible variants are even more dangerous.

(Keep reading…)

@WHO #COVID19 What we know: available analyses show that there is increased transmissibility of delta, more than the ancestral virus, more than alpha variant. We are seeing convergent evolution. Image
May 31, 2021 6 tweets 4 min read
Today, @WHO announces new, easy-to-say labels for #SARSCoV2 Variants of Concern (VOCs) & Interest (VOIs)

They will not replace existing scientific names, but are aimed to help in public discussion of VOI/VOC

Read more here (will be live soon):…

#COVID19 The labels for VOI/VOC are simple, easy to say & remember & are based on the Greek alphabet, a system that was chosen following wide consultation & a review of several potential systems.

🙏@WHO Virus Evolution Working Group @nextstrain @GISAID Pangolin groups & many others