Hard-won gains at risk as Delta variant spreads: WHO

Published July 31, 2021
BANGKOK: Buddhist monks from Vietnam queue up to receive doses of a Covid-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre on Friday. — AFP
BANGKOK: Buddhist monks from Vietnam queue up to receive doses of a Covid-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre on Friday. — AFP

GENEVA: The world is at risk of losing hard-won gains in fighting Covid-19 as the highly transmissible Delta variant spreads, but WHO-approved vaccines remain effective, the World Health Organisation said on Friday.

The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has described the Delta variant of the coronavirus as being as transmissible as chickenpox and cautioned it could cause severe disease, the Washington Post said, citing an internal CDC document.

Covid-19 infections have increased by 80 per cent over the past four weeks in most regions of the world, WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.

Deaths in Africa — where only 1.5pc of the population is vaccinated — rose by 80pc over the same period.

“Hard-won gains are in jeopardy or being lost, and health systems in many countries are being overwhelmed,” Tedros told a news conference.

The Delta variant has been detected in 132 countries, becoming the dominant global strain, according to the WHO.

Read: What makes Delta variant the most formidable version of coronavirus yet?

“The vaccines that are currently approved by the WHO all provide significant protection against severe disease and hospitalisation from all the variants, including the Delta variant,” said WHO’s top emergency expert, Mike Ryan.

“We are fighting the same virus but a virus that has become faster and better adapted to transmitting amongst us humans, that’s the change,” he said.

Maria van Kerkhove, WHO technical lead on Covid-19, said the Delta variant was the most easily spread so far, about 50pc more transmissible than ancestral strains of SARS-CoV-2 that first emerged in China in late 2019.

A few countries had reported increased hospitalisation rates, but higher rates of mortality had not been recorded from the Delta variant, she said.

Japan said on Friday it would expand states of emergency to three prefectures near Olympic host city Tokyo and the western prefecture of Osaka, as Covid-19 cases spike in the capital and around the country, overshadowing the Summer Games.

Ryan noted that Tokyo had recorded more than 3,000 cases in the past 24 hours, among some 10,000 new infections in Japan.

In China, a cluster of infections in Nanjing city had reached the capital Beijing and five provinces by Friday.

Hundreds of thousands of people have been locked down in Jiangsu province, of which Nanjing is the capital, while 41,000 came under stay-at-home orders in Beijing’s Changping district.

Meanwhile, the United States ramped up efforts to get people vaccinated in the face of a Delta variant-fuelled surge. With infections and hospitalisations rising, President Joe Biden asked every US federal worker to either declare they are fully vaccinated or wear masks and be tested.

Published in Dawn, July 31st, 2021

Opinion

Pariah regimes
21 Sep 2021

Pariah regimes

The world usually struggles to tame even real pariah and rogue regimes.

Editorial

What’s the game?
21 Sep 2021

What’s the game?

Such brinkmanship is being fuelled by incendiary rhetoric as well as inflexible demands of a unilateral nature.
21 Sep 2021

Gas price hike

THE proposed hike of 24pc-37pc in the gas price of the top 23pc residential consumers, who account for 43pc of the...
21 Sep 2021

Green Line buses

AT long last, the first batch of vehicles for Karachi’s Green Line bus project arrived from China on Sunday,...
20 Sep 2021

Banking for women

AS the old adage goes, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. How far the new State Bank initiative —...
Off the red list
Updated 20 Sep 2021

Off the red list

There are aspects of coronavirus management, especially by developed nations towards those less so, that smack of discrimination.
20 Sep 2021

Exciting frontiers

HISTORY was made on Wednesday at the Kennedy Space Centre in Cape Canaveral. It was not the launch of the first, or...