Delta Covid variant first found in India spreads to 62 countries, WHO says
Health worker cares for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) patient supported by mechanical ventilator and undergoing dialysis at COVID-19 emergency room at National Kidney and Transplant government hospital Institute of Quezon City, which declared overcapacity amid a growing number of COVID-19 Infections in Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines on April 26, 2021.
Éloisa López | Reuters
The variant of Covid-19 first detected in India in October has now spread to at least 62 countries as epidemics multiply in Asia and Africa – despite a 15% drop from week to week another of the cases around the world, according to the World Health Organization.
“We continue to see dramatically increased transmissibility and an increasing number of countries reporting outbreaks associated with this variant,” WHO said of the Delta strain, noting that further study was a high priority.
WHO changed the name of the variant to Delta in order to simplify its scientific name, B.1.617.2. The new system for naming variants of Covid, based on the letters of the Greek alphabet, also avoids stigmatizing countries that detect new strains.
The P.1 variant, now called Gamma, which was first detected in Japan in people who traveled from Brazil, has spread to 64 countries, according to the WHO.
Even countries with high vaccination rates are seeing an increase in cases over the past week or two, “so no one has come out of the woods,” said Dr Mike Ryan, executive director of the emergency health program. WHO in a question-and-answer session hosted by WHO Wednesday on social media platforms.
In Bahrain, where around 55% of the population is vaccinated with at least one dose, Covid cases have been increasing since early May, reaching the highest level of daily reported cases since the start of the pandemic, according to Our World in Data. .
“Relaxing public health and social measures, increased social mobility, viral variants and inequitable vaccination are a very dangerous combination,” said Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO technical officer for Covid-19, explaining some of the recent increases.
The Western Pacific region is reporting its highest levels of Covid cases and deaths since the start of the pandemic, according to the agency’s weekly update. The region reported more than 139,000 new cases in the past week, a 6% increase from the previous week. The highest number of new cases in the region was reported in Myanmar, which recorded 53,419 new cases last week. The highest number of deaths in the region was reported in the Philippines, which recorded 776 deaths last week.
“There are hotspots in every region [of the world], there are countries that are really facing very, very difficult situations, with an increase in transmission, ”said Van Kerkhove. “Eighteen months later, we are all tired of this virus. It’s not over with us yet, and if we give it the opportunity to spread, it will. “
The African region has reported more than 52,000 new cases and more than 1,100 new deaths in the past week, an increase of 22% and 11% respectively from the previous week, according to the weekly update.
WHO also said last week that Africa needs at least 20 million doses of AstraZeneca Covid vaccine over the next six weeks to get the second round of vaccines to people who have already received the first. The continent has only received 1% of all vaccines administered globally and needs an additional 200 million doses of any approved Covid vaccine to vaccinate 10% of the continent by September.
President Joe Biden said Wednesday that it is working hard to ensure that at least 70% of all American adults are at least partially vaccinated by July 4, offering vaccines in hair and beauty salons, childcare services free and Uber rides for people to get vaccinated, among other incentives. As of Tuesday, more than 62% of all adults in the United States had received at least one injection.