GENEVA, July 21. / TASS /. The number of countries and territories, where the highly contagious Delta COVID-19 variant is circulating, climbed by 13 from July 13 to 20, having reached 124, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced on Wednesday.
According to the WHO weekly epidemiological bulletin, some 124 countries and territories, including 13 of them reported this week, detected cases of the Delta COVID-19 variant.
The WHO emphasizes that the geography of the four strains that were characterized as "variants of concern" (VOCs - Alpha, Beta, Gamma and Delta) continues to expand. Meanwhile, the experts claim that the Delta strain will "rapidly outcompete other variants and become the dominant variant globally over the coming months".
Experts reported more and more data indicating the increased transmissibility of the Delta COVID-19 variant compared to the strains that were not classified as VOCs. The WHO noted that the exact mechanism of the surge in transmissibility remained unclear. According to a Canadian study, the risk of death from the Delta variant is 137% higher than from the non-VOCs of COVID-19.
Furthermore, the WHO is concerned about the ongoing worldwide spread of all four VOCs. The Alpha variant, discovered in September 2020 in the UK, was detected as of July 20 in 180 countries (two more than a week earlier). The Beta variant, identified in South Africa last August, is now present in 130 countries (seven more than the previous week), while the Brazilian Gamma variant expanded its geography in seven days from 75 to 78 countries.
The global COVID-19 incidence surged by 12% over the past week, with more than 3.4 mln new cases of infection recorded. At the same time, the number of fatalities rose by 1%, bringing the weekly death toll to more than 56,000. According to the WHO, as of July 20, a total of 190,671,330 coronavirus cases and 4,098,758 deaths have been detected across the world since the start of the pandemic.