Covid Delta variant now in 124 countries, to dominate within months, says WHO

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The highly contagious Delta variant of Sars-Cov-2 has been identified in 124 countries and is expected to become the dominant strain worldwide within months, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Wednesday. The rapid transmission of the ‘variant of concern’ first detected in India appears to be driven by multiple factors, including relaxation of social distancing measures and inequitable vaccine distribution around the world, the WHO said.

“It is expected that it will rapidly outcompete other variants and become the dominant circulating lineage over the coming months,” the UN health agency said in its weekly epidemiological update.

The Delta variant is wreaking havoc across the globe and now accounts for more than 75% of coronavirus disease (Covid-19) cases in several countries including India, Bangladesh, Australia, South Africa, Britain, Singapore, Indonesia, Russia, and China among others, as per the report. The US health officials said on Tuesday that the variant of concern accounts for about 83% of cases in the United States, threatening the gains made through the massive vaccination drive.

Over the past week, Indonesia reported the highest number of new Covid-19 cases, followed by Britain, Brazil, India, and the US. Despite a worrying rise in coronavirus cases per capita, the UK has removed virtually all restrictions, prompting experts to warn the country about the impending threat.

The WHO report said growing evidence supports the Delta variant’s increased transmissibility but the exact mechanism for it remains unclear. Citing a study from China, the UN health agency said that the time interval from the exposure to the first positive PCR result may be shorter for the Delta variant as compared to non-variants of concern. The study also suggested that the Delta variant may be able to replicate faster and be more infectious during the early stages of infection.

“The evolution of transmission patterns as the pandemic continues will likely be influenced by the impact of the Covid-19 vaccination campaigns and by the emergence of more transmissible variants, or variants with properties of immune escape,” the WHO said.

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