"Delta variant is dangerous, continues to evolve and mutate: WHO chief"
The world is in a very "dangerous situation" of the COVID-19 pandemic compounded by more transmissible variants like Delta, which is continuing to evolve and mutate itself, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has warned.
He said in countries with low vaccination drive, terrible scenes of hospitals overflowing are again becoming the serious thought of concern.
"Compounded by more transmissible variants of COVID-19, like Delta, which is quickly becoming the dominant strain of concern in many countries. now, we are in a very dangerous period of this pandemic," Ghebreyesus said during a press briefing on Friday.
"But no country is out of the Global pandemic situation yet. The new Delta variant is dangerous and is continuing to evolve and mutate itself, which requires constant evaluation a careful adjustment of the public health response," he said.
Noting that the Delta variant of coronavirus has been detected in at least 98 countries and is spreading quickly in countries with low and high vaccination coverage, he said there are essentially two ways for countries to push back against new surges.
"Public health and social measures like strong surveillance, strategic testing, early case detection, isolation and clinical care remain critical like before," he said, adding that masking, physical distance, avoiding crowded places and keeping indoor areas well ventilated are the basis for the response.
Ghebreyesus underscored that the world must equitably share protective gear i.e.PPE kit, oxygen, tests, treatments and vaccines and stressed that he has urged leaders across the world to work together to ensure that by this time next year, 70 per cent of all people in every country must be vaccinated.
"This is the best way to slow the rate of pandemic, save lives, drive a truly global economic recovery and along the way prevent further dangerous variants from getting the upper hand. By the end of this September, we're calling on leaders to vaccinate at least 10 per cent of people in all countries," he said.
As new manufacturing g5 "including for mRNA vaccines" are being developed, the WHO chief said this could be accelerated by companies openly sharing technology and know-how.
"In particular, I urge those companies "BioNTech, Pfizer and Moderna" to share their know-how so that we can speed up the development of new production. The sooner we start building more vaccine hubs and upping global vaccine capacity, the sooner we can diminish deadly surges," he said.
The Delta variant, first detected in India, is now being reported in nearly 100 countries, which is "likely an underestimate" and the highly transmissible strain of coronavirus is expected to rapidly outcompete other variants and become dominant globally over the coming months, WHO had said this week.
The COVID-19 Weekly Epidemiological Update published by WHO said that as of June 29, 2021, "96 countries have reported cases of the Delta variant of covid-19, though this is likely an underestimate as sequencing capacities needed to identify variants are limited. A number of these countries are attributing surges in infections and hospitalisations to this variant."
It said given the increase in transmissibility, the Delta variant is "expected to rapidly outcompete all other variants and become the dominant variant over the coming months."