WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said it was dangerous to assume that the highly transmissible Omicron was the last variant to emerge.
It comes after the sub-lineage of the Omicron strain has been formally designated as a “variant under investigation” by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA).
They said on Friday that some 426 cases of BA.2 have been detected in the UK so far.
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Speaking at the opening of the Executive Board meeting, Tedros said since Omicron was first identified a little over nine weeks ago, more than 80 million cases had been reported to the UN.
He said that conditions “are ideal” for more variants to emerge.
But, he also said it was possible this year to exit the acute phase of the pandemic where COVID-19 constitutes a global health emergency if strategies and tools such as testing and vaccines are used in a comprehensive way.
While BA.1 is still the dominant sublineage in the UK, BA.2 cases do appear to be on the rise in several regions around the world.