Many countries have been loosening COVID protocols but is the move being made too soon or has the worst of the pandemic passed? According to researchers at Johns Hopkins University the global tally of new coronavirus cases has fallen drastically, but global deaths have been climbing.

Earlier this month Shanghai, the commercial hub of China, ground to a halt under a strict lockdown as the Omicron variant took over. The city remains closed and there are worries the quarantine is triggering a hunger crisis.

The new XE variant of the virus, first detected in the United Kingdom, has now been detected in Japan. The subvariant has already spread rapidly across the UK infecting about one in every thirteen people there, according to the latest estimates from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) – the highest number since April 2020.

In the United States, fewer people are hospitalized with COVID now than at any other point in the pandemic, but the death toll is inching closer to one million. Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has extended the country’s federal transportation mask mandate for 15 days. It was set to expire on 18 April.

The World Health Organization has set a goal of 70% vaccination for every country and COVID vaccine supply struggles are generally easing. But in 44 countries, most of them in Africa, less than 20% of the population is fully vaccinated. The WHO has also urged continued testing and has said that is the only way to see how the virus is spreading and evolving.

In this episode, we’ll take a look at some of the latest news about COVID and ask if new variants are a matter of concern as pandemic fatigue takes hold.

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