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The Director-General, World Health Organisation (WHO), Tedros Ghebreyesus, has expressed concern over the COVID-19’s delta variant, which he described as ‘the most transmissible’ mutation to date.
Speaking to reporters at a regular briefing yesterday, Ghebreyesus explained that the delta variant of the virus had been identified in at least 85 countries and is ‘spreading rapidly among unvaccinated populations’.
‘As some countries ease public health and social measures, we are starting to see increases in transmission around the world,‘ he said.
A surge in cases translates to more hospitalisations, which continue to stretch healthcare workers and health systems while putting more at risk of death, according to the WHO chief.
Ghebreyesus acknowledged that new variants were expected, saying “that’s what viruses do, they evolve” and stressed that by preventing transmission, we can stem the emergence of variants.
‘It’s quite simple: more transmission, more variants. Less transmission, less variants,’ he said, noting that it is even more urgent today to prevent transmission by consistently using public health and social measures along with vaccines.
‘This is why WHO has been saying for at least a year that vaccines must be distributed equitably, to protect health workers and the most vulnerable,’ he said.
Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO Technical Lead on COVID-19, said ‘the world situation is very fragile’ and ‘countries must be cautious’.
Noting that the COVID-19 delta has proved ‘extremely contagious in any country it reaches’, she cautioned that it is being transmitted among unvaccinated people ‘even in countries with high percentages of immunisation’.
‘The delta variant can make the epidemic curve exponentially,’ Kerkhove said.
But delta is not the only worrying mutation. According to the WHO expert, ‘there is a constellation of variants circulating,’ including sub-variants, four of which are very worrying.
AFRICA DAILY NEWS, NEW YORK