June 23, 2021: -On Monday, The WHO warned that the delta variant, which is highly contagious, is the fastest and fittest coronavirus strain till now, and it will “pick off” the most vulnerable people in places with low Covid-19 vaccination rates.
Delta was first identified in India, has the potential “to be more lethal as it is efficient in transmitting between humans and it will find those vulnerable ind99ividuals who will become severely ill, have to be hospitalized and potentially die,” Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of the health emergencies program of WHO, said during a news conference.
Ryan said world leaders and public health officials could help defend the most vulnerable through the donation and distribution of Covid vaccines.
“We can protect those vulnerable people, those front-line workers,” Ryan said, “and the fact that we haven’t, as Director-General [Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus] has said, again and again, is a catastrophic moral failure at a global level.”
The WHO said Friday that delta is becoming the dominant variant of the disease worldwide.
The agency declared delta a “variant of concern” last month. According to the health organization, a variant can be labeled as “of concern” if it is more contagious, more deadly, or more resistant to current vaccines and treatments.
Delta is now replacing alpha, the highly contagious variant that swept across Europe and later the U.S. earlier this year, Dr. Paul Offit, director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, said in a recent interview.
The United Kingdom recently saw delta become the dominant strain there, surpassing its native alpha variant, which was detected in the country last fall. The delta variant now makes up over 60% of new cases in the U.K.
WHO officials have said there were reports that the delta variant also causes more severe symptoms, but more research is needed to confirm those conclusions. Still, there are signs the delta strain could provoke different symptoms than other variants.
No variant has found the combination of high transmissibility and lethality, but the delta is “the ablest and fastest and fittest of those viruses,” WHO officials said Monday.
The WHO officials have been urging wealthy nations, including the U.S., to donate doses. The Biden administration earlier Monday detailed where it will send 55 million vaccine doses, most of which will be distributed through COVAX, the WHO-backed immunization program.