The highly transmissible Delta strain of COVID-19 has now been reported in 135 countries, according to the World Health Organization, which said the cumulative number of coronavirus cases reported worldwide could exceed 200 million by next week.
The August 3 COVID-19 weekly epidemiological update released by WHO said 132 countries worldwide have reported cases of the beta variant and 81 countries of the Gamma variant.
It said cases of the Alpha variant have been reported in 182 countries, territories or territories, while 135 countries have reported cases of the Delta variant, which was first identified in India.
The global number of new cases has been rising for more than a month, with more than 4 million cases reported in the past week – July 26 to August 1, the update said.
“This upward trend is largely attributed to substantial increases in the Eastern Mediterranean and Western Pacific, which increased 37 percent and 33 percent, respectively, compared to the previous week, while the Southeast Asian region reported a 9 percent increase,” it said.
In total, the number of reported deaths has fallen by 8 percent this week compared to the previous week, with more than 64,000 reported deaths.
However, the western Pacific and eastern Mediterranean showed a sharp increase in new deaths compared to the previous week, with 48 percent and 31 percent increases, respectively.
The cumulative number of cases reported worldwide is now nearly 197 million and the number of cumulative deaths is 4.2 million.
“If these trends continue, the cumulative number of cases reported worldwide could exceed 200 million by next week,” the update said.
At the national level, the highest number of new cases reported last week were the United States (543,420 new cases; 9 percent increase), India (283,923 new cases; 7 percent increase), Indonesia (273,891 new cases; 5 percent decrease), Brazil (247,830 new cases; 24 percent decrease) and Iran (206,722 new cases; 27 percent increase).
The Southeast Asia region reported a 9 percent increase in new cases compared to the previous week (more than 841,000 cases), while weekly deaths remained similar to the previous week (22,000 deaths).
The highest number of new cases in the region were reported from India (283,923 new cases; 20.6 new cases per 100,000; 7 percent increase), Indonesia (273,891 new cases; 100.1 new cases per 100,000; 5 percent decrease) and Thailand (118,012 new cases; 169.1 new cases per 100,000; increase of 26 percent).
Cases from India, Indonesia and Thailand accounted for 80 percent of the new cases reported from the region.
The highest number of new deaths were reported from Indonesia (12,444 new deaths; 4.5 new deaths per 100,000; 28 percent increase), India (3,800 new deaths; less than one new death per 100,000; decrease of 45 percent) and Myanmar (2,620 new deaths; 4.8 new deaths per 100,000; increase of 24 percent).
Amid rising cases of Delta variant and vaccine disparity, WHO called for a “moratorium” on booster shots of the COVID-19 vaccine until at least the end of September, noting with concern the disparity in vaccination levels in low- and high-income countries.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a news conference on Wednesday that while high-income countries have now administered nearly 100 doses per 100 people, low-income countries have been able to administer only 1.5 doses per 100 people, due to lack of supply.
“We need an urgent turnaround from the majority of vaccines to high-income countries, to the majority to low-income countries,” he said.
“Accordingly, the WHO is calling for a moratorium on boosters until at least the end of September so that at least 10% of the population of each country can be vaccinated,” the WHO chief said.
The WHO’s goal remains to support every country to vaccinate at least 10 percent of the population by the end of September, at least 40 percent by the end of this year and 70 percent by the middle of next year.
The global health agency urged “everyone with influence” — Olympic athletes, investors, business leaders, faith leaders and every individual in their own families and communities to back its call for a moratorium on booster shots until at least the end of September.
He added that ensuring greater vaccination coverage in low-income countries requires the cooperation of everyone, especially the handful of countries and companies that control the global supply of vaccines.
To date, more than four billion vaccine doses of COVID-19 have been administered worldwide and more than 80% have gone to high and upper middle income countries, even though they make up less than half of the world’s population.
“And yet, even as hundreds of millions of people are still waiting for their first dose, some rich countries are switching to booster doses,” Ghebreyesus said.
Emphasizing that while he understands the concern of all governments to protect their people from the Delta variant, Ghebreyesus said, “we cannot accept that countries that have already used most of the world’s vaccine supply take even more of them.” use, the world’s most vulnerable people remain unprotected.”
In response to the Delta wave, the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator is launching the Rapid ACT-Accelerator Delta Response, or RADAR, and is making an urgent call for $7.7 billion for tests, treatments and vaccines.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NewsMadura staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.)