The World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned that the COVID-19 pandemic has entered its third wave amid an increase in cases of the Delta variant of the virus.
Speaking to the WHO's Emergency Committee on COVID-19 on Wednesday, the organisation’s Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that the global number of coronavirus infections had soared for four consecutive weeks.
According to him, the Delta strain is currently present in 111 countries, with death tolls rising again after 10 straight weeks of declines.
“[…] As increasing vaccination rates in Europe and North America started to take effect, we saw sustained declines in cases and deaths. Unfortunately, those trends have now reversed, and we are now in the early stages of a third wave”, the WHO chief emphasised.
Ghebreyesus said that the WHO expects the new variant of the virus “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”, he said.
Ghebreyesus bemoaned the fact that the lack of access to COVID-19 vaccines has left most of the world's population susceptible to infection and “at the mercy of the virus”.
He added that while some countries with ample vaccine supplies have scrapped national coronavirus lockdowns, many nations haven't received any COVID-19 jabs yet.
“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”, the WHO chief pointed out, citing 11 billion doses that are needed “to reach these targets”.
The United States, India, and Brazil are the top three countries in terms of the number of registered coronavirus infections, while the largest number of COVID-19-related deaths has been observed in the United States, Brazil, India, and Mexico, according to the WHO’s latest estimates.
Globally, the number of confirmed coronavirus cases has climbed to 187,827,660, with 4,055,497 fatalities as of Wednesday, the WHO revealed.