The coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic is now in the “early stages” of the third wave, warned World Health Organization (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Wednesday, even as he sounded a fresh alarm over a global surge in cases of the Delta variant of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. “Unfortunately…we are now in the early stages of a third wave”, Ghebreyesus said 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.
“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,” a UN report quoted World Health Organization chief Ghebreyesus as saying. He added that the coronavirus is continuing to evolve and resulting in more transmissible variants.
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Tedros Adhanom, the director-general of the international public health agency, pointed out that Covid-19 cases and deaths were on the decline for a while due to increasing vaccination rates in Europe and North America, but the global trend has now reversed and cases are rising once again, the last week being the fourth consecutive one which witnessed rising cases in all but one of WHO’s six regions. Deaths are also rising again, after 10 weeks of steady decline, it said.
WHO said that the recent spread of the Delta variant of the coronavirus is being fueled by “increased social mobility” and inconsistency in the use of proven public health and social measures.
Vaccination against Covid-19 is important but that alone will not stop the pandemic, the global health body said, pointing out that countries need to undertake a “comprehensive risk management approach to mass gatherings”, an updated guidance for which was recently issued by WHO.
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Moreover, there is also a “shocking disparity” in the global distribution of Covid-19 vaccines, Ghebreyesus added. This inequity has resulted in different countries taking separate approaches to battle the pandemic, resulting in a ‘two-track pandemic’, per se. One track is for countries with the greatest access to vaccines, who are lifting restrictions and reopening their societies, and the second track is for those without vaccine access and are left “at the mercy of the virus,” he said.
There needs to be a massive Covid-19 vaccination push worldwide, WHO highlighted. The global health agency said that every nation must vaccinate at least 10% of their entire population against the coronavirus by September, at least 40% by the end of 2021, and at least 70% by mid-2022.
Meanwhile, India reported 41,806 fresh cases and 581 more fatalities due to the coronavirus disease in the last 24 hours, taking the caseload and death toll to 30,987,880 and 411,989 respectively, according to the Union health ministry’s update on Thursday.