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COVID-19: We ‘re in dangerous period of pandemic-WHO

…As Delta variant spread to 98 countries

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has raised concern that the unusual fast spread of the Delta variant of the COVID-19 which is becoming a dominant strain in many countries of the world is an indication that this, indeed, is a very dangerous period of the pandemic.
It, however, called on countries to, as quickly as possible, make efforts to vaccinate a considerable percentage of its population.
At a bi-weekly media briefing the head of the WHO,  Tedros Adhanom Gebreyesus, explained that the Delta variant is ‘dangerous’ and continues to evolve and mutate, and this requires constant evaluation and ‘careful adjustment of the public health response’.
“In those countries with low COVID-19 vaccination coverage, terrible scenes of hospitals overflowing are again becoming the norm. But no country is out of the woods yet.
“Delta has been detected in at least 98 countries and is spreading quickly in countries with low and high vaccination coverage,” he said.
The WHO Chief explained that there are ‘essentially’ two ways for countries to push back against the new COVID-19 surges.
“Public health and social measures like strong surveillance, strategic testing, early case detection, isolation and clinical care remain critical. As well as masking, physical distance, avoiding crowded places and keeping indoor areas well ventilated,” he revealed.
The second way, said Tedros, was through the global sharing of protective gear, oxygen, tests, treatments and vaccines.
“I have urged leaders across the world to work together to ensure that by this time next year, 70% of all people in every country are vaccinated”, Tedros highlighted, adding that this was the best way to slow the pandemic, save lives, drive a truly global economic recovery and prevent further dangerous variants from getting the ‘upper hand’.
Responding to questions from journalists, WHO’s technical leader for COVID-19, Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, noted that the virus has been evolving since it first emerged.
“It is what viruses do. The variants of concern that we are tracking are currently four: Alpha, Beta, Gama and Delta. They will continue to evolve: there will be more mutations, there will be more variants detected, and some of those will be variants of concern”, she predicted.
Dr. Van Kerkhove said there were ‘sub lineages’ of the Delta variant that experts are currently tracking and urged countries to expand their genomic sequencing efforts.
The world health body, therefore, called on leaders to vaccinate at least 10% of people as soon as possible, in all countries, to ensure that health workers and those most at risk are protected.
According to Tedros, ensuring this would effectively end the acute stage of the pandemic and save a significant number of lives.
“It’s a challenge but we know it’s possible because already three billion vaccines have been distributed. It is within the collective power of a few countries to step up and ensure that vaccines are shared, manufacturing is increased, and that the funds are in places to purchase the tools needed”, he urged.
Although there is some vaccine-sharing happening now, it is still ‘only a trickle’, and being outpaced by variants.
“In those countries whose hospitals are filling up, they need vaccines and other health tools right now”, he reiterated.

Written by ExpressDay

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