World Health Organization’s Chief Scientist Soumya Swaminathan, on July 9, said the Delta variant is continuing to spread across countries and as a result, the COVID-19 pandemic isn’t slowing down.
She stressed the urgent need to ramp up vaccination drives across the world to combat the new variants.
“In the last 24 hours, close to 500,000 new cases have been reported and about 9,300 deaths -- now that’s not a pandemic that’s slowing down,” Swaminathan told Bloomberg.
While inoculation reduced severe cases and hospitalisation, several regions in the world were facing shortages of beds and oxygen in hospitals, Swaminathan said.
She added that five out of six WHO regions are witnessing an increase in the number of incidences. The mortality rates in Africa have jumped by 30 to 40 percent in the last two weeks, she added.
The WHO Chief Scientist attributed the growing number of cases to the Delta variant and slow pace of vaccination. She also warned that the relaxation of curbs by various governments may lead to a rise in COVID-19 infections. Earlier this week, the WHO asked the governments to exercise caution while reopening.
In a briefing on July 7, WHO officials said the more virulent Delta variant has spread to over 100 countries, including those with high vaccination rates.
The WHO’s Health Emergencies Program Technical Lead, Maria Van Kerkhove, said that more than 24 countries have ‘vertical epidemic curves’.
The Delta variant is now dominant in the United States, as per new estimates from the U.S.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. During the two weeks leading up to July 3, 51 percent of new cases were linked to the variant, the agency said.
England’s coronavirus infections have also witnessed a sharp increase since early June, according to a new study by Imperial College London, which also states that the Delta variant is mostly affecting unvaccinated people.
The U.S. and most of Europe have relaxed curbs after cases dropped while the U.K. will relax curbs on July 19.
Meanwhile, Japan has declared a state of emergency in Tokyo that will run throughout the Olympic Games.
Globally, there were 185,291,530 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 4,010,834 deaths as of 5:29 p.m. CEST, on July 9, 2021, reported to WHO. As of July 7, 2021, a total of 3,078,787,056 vaccine doses have been administered, it said.
The world health body, however, maintains that it is dangerous to assume that everything is going back to normal anywhere in the world.
(Edited by : Kanishka Sarkar)