WHO says delta COVID variant from India spreading to more than 60 countries
WHO technical lead for COVID-19 Maria Van Kerkhove said the delta variant, first found in India, has now been seen in more than 60 countries and is more transmissible than the alpha variant found in the United Kingdom, the Associated Press reported.
Kerkhove blamed “worrying trends of increased transmissibility, increased social mixing, loosening of public health and social measures, and eleven-fold and inequitable vaccine distribution around the world.”
Dr. Michael Ryan, WHO’s director of emergencies, said more than 80 percent of people need to be vaccinated, “where you could significantly impact the risk of imported cases potentially generating secondary cases or causing a cluster or an outbreak.”
“So pretty high vaccination rates are needed,” Ryan said. “Especially in the context of more transmissible variants, to be on the safe side.”
Additional Associated Press reports can be found below.
Many wealthy countries have opted to vaccinate teens and children – who are at lower risk for the more dangerous cases of COVID-19 than older people or those with comorbidities – even as those same countries face pressure to share vaccines with poorer countries that don’t have them.
In the United Kingdom, where the number of cases has plummeted thanks to an aggressive vaccination campaign, there has been a recent surge in cases, largely attributed to the so-called delta variant, which originally appeared in India – a former British colony.
Ryan acknowledged that the data are not entirely clear on what percentage of vaccine coverage is needed to have a full effect on transmission.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, meanwhile, called on leaders of the Group of Seven developed countries to support the UN-supported vaccination program against COVID-19 to improve access to vaccine doses in developing countries.
With G7 leaders set to meet in England later this week, they could help Tedros reach his goal of having at least 10 percent of the population in each country vaccinated by the end of September – and 30 percent by the end of the year.
“To meet those goals, we need an additional 250 million doses by September, and we need hundreds of millions of doses in June and July alone,” he said, alluding to the summit, which includes the United Kingdom, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States.
“These seven nations have the power to achieve these goals. I urge the G7 to not only commit to sharing them,. This is a brief summary.