Delta Variant Spreading Rapidly in Almost 100 Countries: WHO

The World Health Organization (WHO) data revealed that the highly infectious Delta variant of COVID-19 which was first detected in India in February 2021, has now spread to almost 100 countries.

Considered to be two-and-a-half times more transmissible than the original virus, the Delta variant is responsible for most new infections in India, United States, United Kingdom, Russia, South Africa and numerous other countries, the data said.

In fact, GISAID statistics said that 67 percent of India’s 224 genome sequencing cases in the last four weeks are linked to the Delta variant. GISAID (Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data) is a platform that tracks genomes in virus variants.

According to a India Today Data Intelligence Unit (DIU) analyzation GISAID figures of 78 countries found that the Delta variant is now gaining ground in India, UK, Russia, Singapore, Australia, and South Africa, among others. Data of the last four weeks (till June 29) show that UK and Singapore have over 90 percent of their genome sequencing cases linked to the Delta variant.

The Delta variant (B.1.617.2) was the major Covid-19 strain behind the devastating second wave in India. It has since mutated into the variants AY.1 and AY.2. Delta plus is a mutant form of the Delta variant.

“As of June 29, 2021, 96 countries have reported cases of the strain, though this is likely an underestimate, as sequencing capacities needed to identify the variants are limited. A number of these countries are attributing surges in infections and hospitalizations to this variant,” the WHO said in its latest weekly report and cautioned that the virus strains are expanding rapidly.

Last week, Brazil reported the highest number of new cases (521,298 at 3% increase) compared to the previous week. India had the second-highest numbers (351,218 new cases; 12% increase), followed by Colombia (204,132 new cases; 5% increase) and Russia (134,465 new cases; 24% increase).

“Given the increase in transmissibility, the Delta variant is expected to rapidly out-compete other variants and become the dominant variant over the coming months,” the WHO report added.

Concerned about the spread of the Delta variant, Australia has imposed a lockdown in some of its cities. South Africa imposed restrictions for two weeks starting June 27 to contain the spread of the virus. Considering the highly infectious nature of the new variant, cross-border travel restrictions are back again.

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