‘Early stages’ of COVID third wave, amid Delta surge: WHO DG

World Health Organization

The variant’s spread, along with increased social mobility and the inconsistent use of proven public health measures, is driving an increase in both case numbers and deaths, the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Wednesday.

The Delta variant is now in more than 111 countries: WHO DG

New Delhi, 15 July 2021: WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus described the recent data in an address to the Emergency Committee on COVID-19, established under the International Health Regulations (IHR), a treaty that guides global response to public health risks.

In opening remarks at the 8th meeting of the IHR Emergency Committee on COVID-19 – 14 July 2021 WHO DG said,

“The Delta variant is now in more than 111 countries and we expect it to soon be the dominant COVID-19 strain circulating worldwide if it isn’t already.

The Delta variant is one of the main drivers of the current increase in transmission, fuelled by increased social mixing and mobility, and inconsistent use of proven public health and social measures.

At the same time, we continue to see a shocking disparity in the global distribution of vaccines, and unequal access to life-saving tools.

This inequity has created a two-track pandemic: countries with the greatest access to vaccines are lifting restrictions and reopening their societies, although great risks remain for unvaccinated groups.

Meanwhile, lack of access to vaccines leaves most of the world’s population susceptible to infection, and at the mercy of the virus.

Many countries still have not received any vaccines, and most have not received enough. COVAX can work, but the scale is still far too small, with just over 100 million doses shipped.”

WHO DG said,

“I have called for a massive push to vaccinate at least 10% of the population of every country by September, at least 40% by the end of this year, and at least 70% by the middle of next year.

To reach these targets, we need 11 billion doses. We’re grateful for the announcements made by the G7 countries that together they will donate 870 million doses, primarily through COVAX. But much more is needed, much faster.

And we also know that vaccines alone will not stop this pandemic.”

“We have urged countries to persist with a tailored and consistent approach, using the full array of public health and social measures, and a comprehensive risk management approach to mass gatherings.

So many countries around the world have shown that this virus can be stopped and contained with these measures.

We see countries relaxing restrictions on international travel, but national policies to record the status of travellers remain uncoordinated.

To support countries, WHO has recently issued updated guidance to facilitate a risk-based approach for opening”, added Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

He said,

“WHO is also reviewing options to digitalize the International Certificate for Vaccination and Prophylaxis, to support a harmonized approach for recording vaccination status, as well as other information about international travellers.

We continue to look to you for advice on the key challenges countries still face, and how to overcome them, guided as always by the International Health Regulations.”

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