The “highly-transmissible” Delta variant is driving a majority of the increase in Covid-19 cases across the globe, the World Health Organisation Chief Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Friday.
The variant has now been detected in at least 132 countries, the WHO Chief said at a press briefing.
“Almost 4 million cases were reported to WHO last week, and on current trends, we expect the total number of cases to pass 200 million within the next two weeks. And we know that is an underestimate,” Ghebreyesus said.
Out of WHO’s six regions, infections have increased by 80 per cent or nearly doubled, over the past four weeks in five regions.
In Africa, deaths have increased by 80 per cent over the same period.
“So far, four variants of concern have emerged, and there will be more as long as the virus continues to spread,” he said.
“The rise is also driven by increased social mixing and mobility, the inconsistent use of public health and social measures, and inequitable vaccine use,” the WHO Chief added.
The testing rates in low-income countries are less than 2 percent of what they are in high-income countries, according to the health agency.
Furthermore, the pace of vaccination has also been far off from the targets set by the agency.
So far, just over half of countries have fully vaccinated 10 per cent of their population, less than a quarter of countries have vaccinated 40 per cent, and only three countries have vaccinated 70 per cent, the WHO Chief said.
WHO is aiming for every country to vaccinate at least 10 per cent of its population by the end of September, at least 40 per cent by the end of this year, and 70 per cent by the middle of next year.
In response to the Delta surge, the organisation’s Access to Covid-19 Tools Accelerator has launched the Rapid ACT-Accelerator Delta Response, or RADAR, issuing an urgent call for $7.7 billion for tests, treatments and vaccines.