The World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, has warned that we are in the early stages of the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Delta variant and its mutations will drive this wave, according to the WHO.
Dr Ghebreyesus said on July 15 the continuing infections caused by the Delta variant, the steady unlocking, and disregard for health safety norms are among the key factors leading to the nascent third wave.
The Delta variant is now found in more than 111 countries and the WHO expects it to be the dominant COVID-19 strain across the world, Dr Ghebreyesus said.
Globally, there have been 188.33 million confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 4.06 million deaths till July 16. A total of 3.4 billion vaccine doses were administered till July 15.
The WHO said the number of infections and deaths has been steadily rising over the last four weeks despite vaccination going on in full swing.
Dr Ghebreyesus asked the Emergency Committee on COVID-19 to look into the unequal distribution of vaccines and life-saving aids globally with some countries getting too much and the rest suffering shortages and rising infections.
COVID-related deaths in Africa surged by 43 percent within a week due to a shortage of ICU beds and oxygen, as reported by BBC.
The WHO had earlier appealed for a concerted effort to vaccinate at least 10 percent of every country’s eligible citizens by September 2021; and at least 40 percent by December, and 70 percent by June 2022.
Dr Ghebreyesus urged China to cooperate more and be more transparent in terms of accessibility of raw data so that the WHO's second phase of the investigation into the origin of the virus can be completed before the third wave.
The first phase investigation ended in February 2021, which inferred that it was highly unlikely that the virus came from a laboratory in Wuhan, China. It blamed bats for the same.
A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson asked WHO to stop politicising the probe on the origin of the coronavirus and added that 48 countries have sent letters to the WHO urging it to act as per the World Health Assembly (WHA) resolution seeking a global probe.
(Edited by : Shoma Bhattacharjee)