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healthcare | IST

Global pandemic situation critical, says WHO Chief Scientist

More than 100 countries have now reported cases of COVID due to the delta variant. It is now the dominant variant in the United States according to the CDC. It has been the dominant variant in the UK where cases are rising. However, Britain is going ahead with a full-scale reopening of the economy in just over 10 days. In India, cases have largely dropped but there are several pockets of concern. North-eastern states have reported a sharp rise in cases. India's vaccination drive has slowed with the 7-day average falling from over 60 lakh in the third week of June to below 40 lakh in the first week of July. So amid all this--- where are we in this pandemic and where are things headed? To discuss this forward CNBC-TV18 spoke to Doctor Soumya Swaminathan, chief scientist at the World Health Organisation.

More than 100 countries have now reported cases of COVID due to the delta variant. It is now the dominant variant in the United States according to the CDC. It has been the dominant variant in the UK where cases are rising. However, Britain is going ahead with a full-scale reopening of the economy in just over 10 days.
Today, South Korea has reported record daily infections, Thailand has imposed fresh restrictions and Japan is planning to impose a state of emergency due to rising cases and the upcoming Olympic games. All these countries are seeing new cases of the delta variant.
Back home in India, cases have largely dropped but there are several pockets of concern. North-eastern states have reported a sharp rise in cases. India's vaccination drive has slowed with the 7-day average falling from over 60 lakh in the third week of June to below 40 lakh in the first week of July.
There is also the fear of breakthrough infections. Israel which managed to inoculate large parts of its population saw cases rise recently due to the delta variant.
So amid all this--- where are we in this pandemic and where are things headed? To discuss this forward CNBC-TV18 spoke to Doctor Soumya Swaminathan, chief scientist at the World Health Organisation.
On global situation, Swaminathan said, “We could describe the global situation as being rather fragile, we could also describe it as being at a very critical juncture and this is because after seven weeks of decline in new cases over the last two weeks we are actually seeing an increase in cases all over the world. In the last one week we have seen about 3-5 percent increase in cases except for the region in America’s all the WHO regions have shown an increase in cases with about 2.7 million cases reported last week.”
On delta variant she said, “Delta variant now has been reported in 104 countries probably present in many more, but not all countries have sequencing capabilities. We know now that the delta variant is at least 2 times more transmissible than the original strain of the virus. We are seeing explosive growth of cases, there are 20 countries now where we are seeing vertical increase in cases.”
On vaccination, she said, “Coverage in many countries around the world due to a number of different reasons including poor supplies but that obviously means that there are many susceptible out there that can still get infected. Vaccines that we have today are very good at preventing disease, hospitalisation that is great news, but vaccines alone are not enough. We need to continue with the other cautions and the measures whether you are vaccinated or not continue to practice physical distancing, wearing a mask, cleaning your hands, good ventilation all of the things that we know can work.”
Talking about Covaxin Swaminathan said, “Currently the pre-submission meeting was held, it was on the June 23rd, the data package is currently being submitted and assembled. Then it is being reviewed by a group that looks at safety, quality, good manufacturing practices, and a number of parameters that Bharat Biotech is very familiar with. Hopefully, by mid to late August, we will have a decision on whether or not the vaccine will receive an emergency use.”
For full interview, watch accompanying video