Delta Variant Becoming Globally Dominant: WHO Chief Scientist

‘delta variant is well on its way to becoming the dominant variant globally’, says WHO Chief Scientist Swaminathan.

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Chief Scientist at the World Health Organization, Soumya Swaminathan on Friday, 18 June, said that the Delta variant of the coronavirus, which was first identified in India, is becoming the globally dominant variant.

“The whole [coronavirus] situation is so dynamic because of the variants that are now circulating, and as you [reporter] said, the delta variant is well on its way to becoming the dominant variant globally because of its significantly increased transmissibility.”
Soumya Swaminathan 

WHO Needs More Data

Swaminathan made the statement while responding to a question about reports on the COVID-19 vaccine Sinovac failing to prevent hospitalisation among healthcare workers in Indonesia as the jab had “limited efficacy” against the delta variant.

Swaminathan said the health body needs more data from well-conducted studies on the efficacy of vaccines used in different countries against the various strains that have emerged. She said that the WHO has a special expert group to track the effectiveness of the vaccines against different variants.

“This also means that countries need to do sequencing side by side with documenting vaccine effectiveness,” Swaminathan said. 

Delta Plus COVID Variant

The Delta variant, or the B.1.617.2 strain, was found to be the primary reason behind India’s dangerous second wave of the coronavirus. First found in India, the WHO has classified it as a variant of concern.

The Delta variant has now acquired the K417N spike mutation – to form the ‘Delta Plus’ or AY.1 variant.

The Delta variant – or the B.1.617.2 strain – were primarily responsible for the surge in cases with high transmissibility of 50 percent more than Alpha variant (B.1.1.7), as per study by INSACOG (Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genome Sequencing Consortia) and National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).

The World Health Organization (WHO), on 31 May, announced new labels for COVID variants of concern and interest, using letters of the Greek alphabet.

The WHO further found that “resurgence and acceleration of COVID-19 transmission in India had several potential contributing factors, including an increase in the proportion of cases of SARS-CoV-2 variants with potentially increased transmissibility”.

“Several religious and political mass gathering events that increased social mixing; and, underuse of and reduced adherence to public health and social measures,” were also pointed out by the WHO.

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