The highly contagious Delta variant is causing an increase in new cases of COVID-19, even in countries with high vaccination rates, and experts warn that vaccination campaigns are in a race against time to contain it. .
Globally, the pandemic is still slowing, with the World Health Organization (WHO) reporting the lowest number of new cases worldwide since February and decreasing mortality attributed to the coronavirus.
But concerns are growing about the variant, prompting new restrictions on countries that had previously managed to control their epidemics.
“Currently, there is a lot of concern worldwide about the Delta variant, and the WHO is also concerned,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a news conference on Friday.
“Delta is the most transmissible of the variants identified so far, has been identified in at least 85 countries and is rapidly spreading among unvaccinated populations.
“As some countries facilitate social and public health measures, we are beginning to see increased transmission around the world.”
Cases are on the rise in Russia, Australia, Israel and various parts of Africa, in part because of the Delta.
Other countries fear that they may be as follows.
The Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2 was first detected in India, where it began circulating around April.
In Europe, Delta was initially established in Britain, where it quickly overcame the previous variant of Alpha concern, and now accounts for 95 per cent of all cases sequenced in England.
Delta is believed to be 40 to 60 percent more contagious than Alpha, which is more contagious than the strain responsible for the first wave of COVID-19.
The pattern has been repeated elsewhere.
In the United States last week, 35 percent of the positive tests sequenced as a Delta variant were identified, compared to 10 percent on June 5, figures similar to those being observed in Israel.
The European Center for Disease Control (ECDC) has estimated that Delta could account for 70 per cent of new infections in the EU in early August and 90 per cent by the end of this month.
Vaccination is the key
Leading U.S. infectious disease scientist Anthony Fauci called the variant the “biggest threat” to efforts to control the virus and urged an acceleration of vaccinations, U.S. media reported Tuesday.
Although several studies have shown that vaccines are a little less effective against Delta, they are still highly effective, but only after the second dose.
Recent data from the British government show that full vaccination can offer 96% protection against hospitalization and 79% protection against symptomatic infection by the Delta variant.
However, protection after a single dose is much weaker: 35%.
“The world fails”
Delta is so contagious that experts say more than 80 percent of the population should be punctured to contain it, a difficult goal even for nations with major vaccination programs.
In Africa, the WHO estimates that only one percent of the population is fully vaccinated, the lowest ratio in the world.
Tedros said there was a “worrying trend in Africa, it is becoming very dangerous.”
The Delta variant has been reported in 14 African countries, representing the majority of new cases in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda.
Doses of vaccines circulating through the Covax scheme to the poorest countries have dried up, the WHO said on Friday.
“The world is failing,” with the lack of access to the spikes that cause a two-way pandemic, “said Tedros, who asked,” Just give us the vaccines. “
Do you want to return to restrictions?
Another complication is that Delta seems to largely ignore the immunity that a previous infection could confer, said Samuel Alizon, a biologist who specializes in modeling infectious diseases.
“We really can no longer rely on natural immunity,” he told AFP.
With large numbers of unvaccinated young people, tough measures may need to be reintroduced to stop the spread, even in countries where large-scale vaccine launches had kept their promise to reopen.
In Europe, the ECDC warned that any further relaxation of containment measures could lead to an increase in cases in new age groups.
Some countries, such as Israel and Australia, have already announced a return to certain restrictions.
“Our goal is to finish it,” said Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, “to grab a bucket of water and pour it into the fire when the fire is still small.”
© 2021 AFP
Citation: Delta variant threatens new pandemic challenge (2021, June 25), recovered June 26, 2021 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2021-06-delta-variant-threatens-pandemic.html
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