World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus has expressed concern over the delta variant of COVID -19, which he called the “most transmissible” mutation to date.
Ghebreyesus told reporters in a regular briefing Friday that delta co had been identified in at least 85 countries and “is spreading rapidly among unvaccinated populations.”
“As some countries relax public health and social measures, we are starting to see an increase in transmission around the world,” he said.
According to the WHO chief, an increase in the number of cases translates into more hospitalizations, which continue to stretch health workers and health systems while putting more at risk of death.
Ghebreyesus acknowledged that new variants are expected, saying “this is what viruses do, they evolve” and stressed that by preventing transmission we can stem the emergence of variants.
“It’s quite simple: more transmission, more variants. Less transmission, fewer variants, ”he said, noting that it is even more urgent today to prevent transmission by systematically using public health and social measures as well as vaccines.
“This is why the WHO has been saying for at least a year that vaccines must be distributed fairly, to protect health workers and the most vulnerable,” he said.
Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO COVID-19 Technical Officer, said “the global situation is very fragile” and “countries need to be careful”.
Noting that the COVID-19 delta has been shown to be “extremely contagious in any country it reaches”, she warned that it is transmitted among unvaccinated people “even in countries with high percentages of vaccination” .
“The delta variant can make the epidemic curve exponential,” Kerkhove said.
But delta is not the only worrying mutation. According to the WHO expert, “there is a constellation of variants that circulate”, including sub-variants, four of which are very worrying.
Vaccines and treatments work, but these viruses can evolve and existing vaccines ‘may not work’ over time, stressing again that to minimize outbreaks, everyone must continue to maintain public health measures.
“One of the most important ways for WHO to coordinate the response to COVID-19 and other emergencies is through its global network of Emergency Medical Teams (EMTs).
“In a crisis, WHO mobilizes these health professionals to support national responses, treat patients, provide training and supervision and ensure quality standards of care.
“Globally, WHO has certified teams from 20 countries, which have gone through a rigorous quality assurance process to ensure they meet internationally agreed standards,” he said.
The head of the UN agency said 87 other countries were either in the process of being certified by the WHO or developing quality assurance systems at the national level.
Since the start of the pandemic, he said the WHO has helped deploy more than 108 paramedics and international experts around the world.
“Last week, WHO and its partners released new EMT deployment standards for a range of situations, from natural disasters to epidemics and conflict situations.
“This is a big step forward in ensuring that emergency medical teams meet common standards of quality of care, whether deployed nationally or internationally,” he said. (NAA)