- The World Health Organization warned that vaccine rollouts are being “outpaced by variants.”
- The head of the WHO noted that the Delta variant is present in at least 98 countries.
- The variant is moving fast in the US and is expected to soon become dominant.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
The World Health Organization (WHO) warned that coronavirus variants are moving faster than the global vaccine rollout, urging leaders to increase the pace or risk being overwhelmed.
Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director general of the WHO, noted that the highly-contagious Delta variant, first identified in India, is “outpacing” vaccinations, the Guardian reported.
“The Delta variant is dangerous and is continuing to evolve and mutate, which requires constant evaluation and careful adjustment of the public health response,” Ghebreyesus said, according to the Guardian.
“Delta has been detected in at least 98 countries and is spreading quickly in countries with low and high vaccination coverage.”
He also said that by July 2022, 70% of people in every country should be vaccinated, the Guardian reported.
Some developed countries are around that threshold already, but most of the world is nowhere near. Experts worry that the longer large groups of people go unvaccinated, the more likely the virus is to mutate into still-worse variants.
Widespread vaccination is “the best way to slow the pandemic, save lives and drive a truly global economic recovery, and along the way prevent further dangerous variants from getting the upper hand,” Ghebreyesus concluded.
His warning comes as the Delta variant continues to rapidly spread around the world.
Daily new case numbers are climbing sharply in countries like Portugal, Russia, and the UK.
British health officials said this week that cases of the Delta variant had increased fourfold in less than a month, according to Sky News. Confirmed cases on Friday were up 46% on the previous week.
The Delta variant is also widespread in the US and has been detected in all 50 states, CNN reported. Arkansas, Colorado, Missouri, Nevada, and Utah are the states that are most vulnerable to the variant, Insider reported.
More than 605,000 Americans have died from the coronavirus since the beginning of the pandemic, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Around 47% of the total US population was fully vaccinated, JHU data also said.