The COVID-19 Delta variant is more dangerous because it has continued to evolve and mutate, the WHO Chief, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has said.
According to the WHO chief, the Delta variant, also known as B. 1.617, was first detected 2020 in India and has been detected in at least 98 countries, noting that the variant is spreading quickly in countries with low and high vaccination coverage.
Studies, the global health agency said, have shown that the Delta variant has several lineages with slightly different sets of mutations, adding that it is a variant of concern because it has increased transmissibility.
According to the World Health Organisation, where the Delta variant is identified, it really rapidly takes off and spreads between people more efficiently than even the Alpha variant that was first detected around December, January 2021.
The WHO chief said, “The Delta variant is dangerous and is continuing to evolve and mutate, which requires constant evaluation and careful adjustment of the public health response.
“Delta has been detected in at least 98 countries and is spreading quickly in countries with low and high vaccination coverage. “Widespread vaccination is the best way to slow the pandemic, save lives and drive a truly global economic recovery, and along the way prevent further dangerous variants from getting the upper hand.”
The WHO Chief Scientist, Dr. Soumya Swaminathan has also urged people to take the full course of COVID-19 vaccination, noting that protection against the Delta and other variants was impossible without taking complete vaccine doses.
Speaking during an interview session tagged ‘Science in 5’ posted on its YouTube channel, Dr. Swaminathan noted that the main goal of vaccines is to prevent severe disease.
The Delta variant, she said, is the fourth variant of concern described by the WHO, adding that it is more transmissible than previous variants and has also been able to resist the antibodies in the blood.
She stressed that a higher level of antibodies is required to overcome the Delta variant.
“Now, the good news is that all of the WHO emergency use listed vaccines do protect against developing severe disease, hospitalisation, and death due to Delta variant.
“There are studies from countries where there is a predominance of Delta variant to show that people who have been vaccinated are much less likely to end up in hospital.
“You need the full course of vaccination in order to give you that full immunity to protect you against the Delta variant.
“So, the important thing is that you have access to a vaccine that is approved by WHO, please take it and take the full course that you can be protected both against the Delta and other variants of COVID-19,” she said.
Also, an epidemiologist, Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove noted that there are a number of factors that are contributing to increased transmission around the world.
“The first are these variants of concern, including the Delta variant.
“The second factor is that we have increased social mixing and increased social mobility, which increases the number of contacts that individuals have.
“The third factor is the relaxation or the inappropriate use of public health and social measures. Proven public health and social measures that we know prevent infections, reduce the spread of somebody who is infected with the virus to others and save lives.
“And the fourth factor is the uneven and inequitable distribution of vaccines.
“The world remains largely susceptible to infection, including any variants of concern, including the Delta variant,” Kerkhove said.