ECDC warns of extensive Delta COVID-19 variant spread this summer

Lithuanian waitress disinfecting tables outdoors
Lithuanian waitress disinfecting tables outdoors

Michele Ursi / iStock

In a risk assessment today, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) estimated that the Delta (B1617.2) variant will make up 90% of SARS-CoV-2 viruses in Europe by the end of August.

Also, the World Health Organization (WHO) said yesterday in its weekly snapshot of the pandemic that 6 more countries have detected the Delta variant, raising the total to 85, as a number of nations battle steady rises in COVID-19 cases.

ECDC: Speed up vaccination

In a video press release today, ECDC Director Andrea Ammon said there are many people who haven't received both vaccine doses, which have shown high protection against the Delta variant. "It is very important to progress with the vaccine rollout at a very high pace," she said, adding that it's crucial that high-risk groups receive their doses according to the shortest recommended interval to speed up protection.

In their risk assessment, officials said current evidence suggests that Delta is 40% to 60% more transmissible than the Alpha (B117) variant and may be associated with a higher risk of hospitalization.

The ECDC said if countries gradually ease their restrictions by half by Sep 1, the rise in COVID-19 will affect all age-groups, especially those younger than 50 years. Hospitalizations and deaths could reach levels seen in the fall of 2020 if no additional public health measures are taken.

Multiple hot spots worldwide

In its weekly epidemiologic update yesterday, the WHO said global cases declined 6% from the week before, while deaths fell 12%. It added, however, that cases markedly increased in Africa, and of five countries that reported the most cases last week, three are in the Americas: Brazil, Colombia, and Argentina. The others were India and Russia.

Countries reporting the steepest increases last week reflect a range of regions. Mongolia had the biggest increase, at 74%, followed by Bangladesh (55%), and Zambia (54%). Others included South Africa (48%), Indonesia (42%), the United Kingdom (33%), and Russia (31%), Iran, Iraq, Brazil, and Colombia reported more moderate increases.

More global headlines

  • Australia's growing outbreak in Sydney, at 30 cases now and linked to the Delta variant, prompted more COVID measures in the affected area, including wearing masks in office settings, according to Reuters.
  • New Zealand temporarily suspended travel from Australia's New South Wales state, home to Sydney, after a man traveled between the two countries while infectious, according to the Washington Post.
  • The global today neared 180 million cases and is at 179,324,611, along with 3,885,405 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins online dashboard.

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