AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine is being administered at Mbagati Hospital in Nairobi, Kenya on July 6, 2021.
Patrick Meinhardt | Bloomberg | Getty Images
The delta variant, first discovered in India just under a year ago, now represents 99% of Covid-19 sequencing cases worldwide, making it more prevalent than any other strain, the World Health Organization said Tuesday.
Virtually all of the up to 900,000 Covid cases sequenced worldwide in the past 60 days originated from a delta strain, WHO Covid technical lead Maria Van Kerkhove said in a Q&A that was broadcast on the organization’s social media. Van Kerkhove’s comments came amid a rise in the number of Covid cases worldwide, driven by an increase in the number of cases in Europe. The continent accounted for roughly 60% of the more than 3.3 million new cases globally last week, Van Kerkhove said.
“Delta really dominates,” said Van Kerkhove. “And there are two interesting options, mu and lambda, which we also track, but again, when delta is present, delta takes over.”
Van Kerkhov said that Europe accounted for more than half of the world’s slightly less than 50,000 coronavirus deaths in the past week, up 5% from the continent. The number of Covid cases has increased globally over the past four consecutive weeks, she said.
“At the moment, the pandemic is moving in the wrong direction,” said Van Kerkhove.
Van Kerkhove said in a briefing last week that declining mask use and social distancing are to blame for the growth in Europe. She warned on Tuesday that the societies opening this winter in the Northern Hemisphere could lead to an increase in respiratory diseases in the coming months, including influenza and other pathogens.
Selected European countries bear the brunt of the upsurge. Germany set a record seven-day average of nearly 39,300 new cases on Monday, up nearly 40% from a week earlier, according to an analysis of CNBC data from Johns Hopkins University.
On Monday, the UK recorded more than 38,500 new cases per week on average, up 13% from the previous week. Seven-day averages in France and Italy also rose nearly 40%.
According to Johns Hopkins, the peak of the pandemic was recorded in Russia on Monday – an average of seven days – about 1,199 deaths. But its seven-day average of more than 38,000 infections fell by more than 2%.
Correction: On Monday, Russia recorded the peak of the pandemic – an average of seven days – about 1,199 deaths. An earlier version misrepresented the figure.