The graphs show how much the delta variant has spread around the world

A sign warning people to stay away because of Covid-19 is seen on July 29, 2021 in Mevagissey, UK.

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More than a year into the Covid-19 pandemic, the world is dealing with a highly transmissible delta variant that has caused a renewed rise in infections in UK and US countries, to those in Africa and Asia.

The delta variant, which was first detected in India last October, has been found in more than 130 countries around the world, according to the World Health Organization.

Delta is the most transmissible variant of the coronavirus that was born in China in late 2019, said Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, epidemiologist and chief technical officer of Covid-19 at the WHO.

“The virus itself, as it turns out, is a dangerous virus, it’s a highly transmissible virus. The delta variant is even more so – it’s twice as transmissible as the ancestral strain, it’s 50% more transmissible than the alpha strain,” he said. said. in a WHO media briefing last week.

The alpha variant was first detected in the United Kingdom

Globally, the number of reported Covid-19 cases has exceeded 200 million on Wednesday and more than 4.2 million people have died, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

Prevalence of the delta variant

Delta is one of four “variants of concern” listed by the WHO. Such variants are considered to be more contagious, more resistant to current vaccines and treatments, or they may cause more serious illnesses.

The delta variant has become the dominant variety causing Covid-19 in many countries.

About 65 countries have reported Covid cases caused by the delta variant in the four weeks to August 5, according to genetically sequenced coronavirus samples collected by GISAID.

GISAID is a platform for scientists to share information about viruses, and their data is widely used by the global scientific community, including the WHO.

Data on the prevalence of the Covid delta variant probably underestimate the current situation because some countries do not share sequenced samples with GISAID, while others may lack the ability and resource to make viral sequencing.

In 55 of these countries, the delta variant accounted for more than half of the virus samples submitted, data compiled by GISAID showed.

Vaccine efficacy

The Covid delta variant has not spared countries with some of the highest vaccination rates in the world.

Israel, where more than 62% of the population has been completely vaccinated, reported an increase in daily cases over the past month since the delta became the dominant strain in the country.

When the delta variant spread to Israel, the health ministry found that the the effectiveness of the two-dose Pfizer-BioNTech Covid vaccine has been reduced to only 39%, although protection against serious diseases has remained high. The country has begun administering reinforcements to people over 60 years of age.

But a study in the UK, where the delta variant also fuels an increase in infections, found that two doses of Pfizer-BioNTech or vaccine from AstraZeneca-Oxford University were almost as effective against delta as against the alpha variant.

The study published in the New England Journal of Medicine used real-world data, and found that two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine were 88% effective against the delta variant. That’s compared to 93.7% against the alpha strain, he said.

The AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine was found to be 67% effective against delta, compared to 74.5% effective against the alpha variant, according to the study.

But vaccination progress has stopped irregularly around the world. Many poorer developing countries are lagging behind due to their lack of access to Covid-19 vaccines.

On Wednesday, the WHO called on rich nations to stop distributing reinforcements, citing the inequity of vaccines around the world.

In addition to inoculating more people, Van Kerkhove of the WHO said there are measures that the individual can take to better protect themselves from the delta variant. This includes wearing a mask, keeping your hands clean, and spending more time outdoors than at home, she said last week.

“It won’t be the last variant of virus we hear about,” he added. “The virus will probably become more transmissible because that’s what viruses do – they evolve, they change over time and so we have to do what we can to get rid of it.”

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