WHO warns COVID-19 Delta variant will dominate globally within months

Thursday, 2021-07-22 09:20:39
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People wearing face masks wait for their test results at a COVID-19 testing centre in Dunkirk, France, on February 18, 2021. (Photo: Reuters)
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NDO – The Delta coronavirus variant is expected to become dominant globally in the next few months, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned.

The highly contagious Delta strain, discovered for the first time in India, has appeared in 124 countries and territories (13 more than last week), accounting for more than three-quarters of the samples sequenced in major countries.

“It is expected that it will rapidly out-compete other variants and become the dominant circulating lineage over the coming months,” the UN health agency announced in its weekly epidemiological update on July 21.

In addition to Delta, there are three other strains listed by WHO in the group of Variants of Concern (VOCs), namely Alpha, first discovered in the UK, which has appeared in 180 territories, an increase of six compared to last week; Beta, which made its debut in South Africa, and now present in over 130 territories, up seven from last week; and finally Gamma, first discovered in Brazil, present in 78 territories, three more than last week.

According to WHO, the increases in transmission appear to be driven by four factors: the circulation of more transmissible VOCs, relaxation of public health social measures originally intended to control transmission, increases in social mixing, and the large number of people who remain susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 infection as a result of the inequitable vaccine distribution around the world.

WHO said that the global number of new cases reported last week (from July 12 to 18) was over 3.4 million, a 12% increase compared to the previous week.

Globally, the COVID-19 case weekly incidence increased with an average of around 490,000 cases reported each day over the past week as compared to 400,000 cases daily in the previous week. The cumulative number of cases reported globally is now over 190 million while the number of deaths exceeds 4 million.

“At this rate, it is expected that the cumulative number of cases reported globally could exceed 200 million in the next three weeks,” WHO predicted.

The highest weekly increase was recorded in WHO’s Western Pacific region at 30%, followed by its European region with 21% and Southeast Asia with 16%.

The highest numbers of new cases were reported from Indonesia (350,273 new cases, up 44%), Britain (296,447 new cases, up 41%), and Brazil (287,610 new cases, down 14%).