The Delta COVID-19 variant, first identified in India, has been detected in 96 countries, 11 more than last week, the World Health Organization (WHO) said in its weekly epidemiological update on Wednesday.
The Delta variant is 55 percent more transmissible than the Alpha variant, which was first detected in the UK, and now over 90 percent of cases in the UK itself are of the Delta variant.
Africa has reported many new outbreaks of the variant as Tunisia, Mozambique, Uganda, Nigeria and Malawi are among the 11 countries targeted by Delta. The continent has witnessed a “sharp increase” in new cases and deaths, according to the update.
First detected in October 2020, the Delta variant has several spike mutations that increase its transmissibility and its resistance to neutralizing antibodies and possibly even vaccines.
Furthermore, a recent study conducted in Scotland and published in the international medical journal Lancet found that the hospitalization rate for patients infected with the Delta variant of COVID-19 was 85 percent higher than for those infected with the Alpha variant.
Among the Alpha, Beta, Gamma, and Delta variants of the virus, Delta has been identified by WHO as the most transmissible of the variants.
“This particular Delta variant is faster, it is fitter, it will pick off the more vulnerable more efficiently than previous variants,” Michael Ryan, executive director of the WHO’s Health Emergencies Program, has commented recently.
As per the latest WHO figures, cases of the Alpha variant have been reported in 172 countries, territories or areas, Beta in 120 countries (one new country), Gamma in 72 countries (one new country) and Delta in 96 countries (11 new countries).
Story compiled with assistance from wire reports