A health worker attends to a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) patient who is assisted by a mechanical ventilator and is undergoing dialysis in the COVID-19 emergency room at the National Kidney and Transplant Institute State Hospital in Quezon City COVID- 19 infections in Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines, April 26, 2021.
Eloisa Lopez | Reuters
The variant of Covid-19, first discovered in India in October, has now spread to at least 62 countries as outbreaks rise across Asia and Africa – despite a 15% decrease in cases around the world week-to-week, according to the World Health Organization.
“We continue to see significantly increased communicability and a growing number of countries reporting outbreaks related to this variant,” said WHO of the Delta strain, noting that further studies were a high priority.
The WHO changed the name of the variant to Delta to simplify the scientific name B.1.617.2. The new naming system for Covid variants by letters of the Greek alphabet also avoids stigmatizing countries that discover new tribes.
The P.1 variant with the current name Gamma, which was first detected in Japan in people who had entered from Brazil, has spread in 64 countries, according to the WHO.
Even in countries with high vaccination rates, there has been an increase in cases in the last week or two, “so no one is out of the woods,” said Dr. Mike Ryan, Executive Director of the WHO Emergency Health Program in one of the WHO on Wednesday on social media platforms.
In Bahrain, where around 55% of the population are vaccinated with at least one dose, Covid cases have been increasing since the beginning of May and, according to Our World in Data, are reaching the highest level of daily reported cases since the pandemic began.
“Relaxation of public health and social measures, increased social mobility, virus variants and unfair vaccinations are a very dangerous combination,” Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO technical director for Covid-19, explained some of the recent increases.
The West Pacific region reports the highest Covid cases and deaths since the pandemic began, according to the agency’s weekly update. The region reported more than 139,000 new cases in the past week, up 6% from the previous week. The highest number of new cases in the region was reported in Myanmar, which recorded 53,419 new cases last week. The highest number of deaths in the region was reported in the Philippines, which recorded 776 deaths over the past week.
“There are hotspots in every region [of the world], there are countries that are really facing very, very difficult situations, with an increase in transmission, ”said Van Kerkhove. “After eighteen months we are all fed up with this virus. We’re not done with it yet, and if we give it a chance to expand, it will. “
The African region reported more than 52,000 new cases and more than 1,100 new deaths in the past week, up 22% and 11% respectively from the previous week, according to the weekly update.
The WHO also said last week that Africa would need at least 20 million AstraZeneca Covid vaccine doses over the next six weeks to get the second round of vaccinations to people who have already received the first. The continent has received only 1% of all vaccines administered worldwide and needs another 200 million doses of all approved Covid vaccines to vaccinate 10% of the continent by September.
President Joe Biden said Wednesday that he is pulling out all the stops to at least partially vaccinate at least 70% of all American adults by July 4th, offering vaccines at hair and beauty salons, free babysitting and Uber rides for people, to get vaccinated, among other incentives. As of Tuesday, more than 62% of all adults in the US had at least one syringe.