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WHO officials are trying to understand why the delta is so much more dangerous than previous Covid strains.

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In this photo illustration a World Health Organization (WHO) logo is seen posted on an Android phone.

Avishek Das | Getty Images

World Health Organization officials have said they are still trying to understand why the delta variant is more transmissible and can make people sicker than the original strain of coronavirus.

“We’re really trying to have a better handle so that the delta variant is more transmissible,” Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO’s technical director on Covid-19, said in a press briefing on Friday. “There are certain mutations in the delta variant that, for example, allow the virus to adhere to a cell more easily. There are some laboratory studies that suggest that there is increased replication in some of the human airway systems. modeled “.

New data are emerging around the world on the highly transmissible strain in recent weeks as scientists seek to better understand the new threat. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned lawmakers Thursday that new research indicates that the delta strain is more contagious than swine flu, colds and polio. It is contagious like chickenpox. It also appears to have a longer transmission window than the original Covid-19 strain and can make elderly people sick, even if they have been completely vaccinated.

The warning Thursday was made into a confidential document that has been reviewed by CNBC and authenticated by the federal health agency.

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“The virus itself, as it turns out, is a dangerous virus. It’s a highly transmissible virus. The Delta variant is even more so,” Van Kerkhove said. “It’s twice as transmissible as the ancestral races.”

WHO officials expect that other dangerous variants will also emerge as countries struggle to distribute life-saving vaccines to their populations.

“They become more in shape as they circulate and so the virus will probably become more transmissible because that’s how viruses evolve, change over time,” Van Kerkhove said.

She said it is imperative that nations follow public health measures, such as the practice of social segregation and wearing masks, while nations distribute more vaccines worldwide, especially among those with the lowest vaccination rates. .

We need “a coverage of about 70% worldwide, to really slow down transmission and reduce the risk of emergence of new variants,” according to Dr. Bruce Aylward, senior adviser to the Director-General of WHO.

However, with current trends, health experts are not optimistic. “It won’t be the last variant of virus we hear about,” Van Kerkhove said.


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