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Delta variant accounts for 99% of global COVID-19 cases: WHO

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AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine supply hits two billion doses

SWITZERLAND: The Delta variant, first detected a little less than a year ago, now represents 99% of sequenced COVID-19 cases globally, making it more prevalent than any other strain, officials from the World Health Organization(WHO) said Tuesday.

Almost all of the up to 900,000 COVID-19 cases sequenced worldwide over the last 60 days originated from the delta strain, Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO’s technical lead on COVID-19, said during a Q&A streamed on the organization’s social media channels. Van Kerkhove’s comments come amid an international increase in COVID infections driven by surging cases in Europe. The Continent accounted for roughly 60% of the more than 3.3 million new cases in the world last week, Van Kerkhove said.

“Delta is really the dominant one,” Van Kerkhove said. “And there are two variants of interest – mu and lambda – that we’ve been tracking as well, but again, where delta is present, delta takes over.”

Van Kerkhove said Europe represented more than half of the just under 50,000 global COVID-19 deaths in the last week, a 5% increase in fatalities across the Continent. COVID-19 cases worldwide have been increasing over the last four consecutive weeks, she added. Select European countries are bearing the brunt of the surge. Germany set a record seven-day average of nearly 39,300 new cases on Monday, up almost 40% from the week before, according to a CNBC analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University.

Meanwhile, Two billion doses of the AstraZeneca-Oxford University COVID-19 vaccine have been supplied worldwide, the Anglo-Swedish drugmaker and its partner said on Tuesday, in just under a year since its first approval.

The shot, which is the biggest contributor to the COVAX vaccine sharing scheme backed by the World Health Organization, is being made in 15 countries for supply to more than 170 countries, London-listed AstraZeneca and Oxford University said in a joint statement.

AstraZeneca in June last year signed on India’s Serum Institute, the world’s biggest manufacturer of vaccines by volume, to help double the vaccine’s manufacturing capacity to two billion doses.

The ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 shot, sold under the brand names Vaxzevria and Covishield, has faced challenges around efficacy data, supplies and links to rare blood clots.

AstraZeneca last week said as the world learns to live with the coronavirus which causes COVID-19, it would begin to earn a modest profit from the shot after having made a commitment to sell it at cost during the pandemic.

The company’s chief executive officer, Pascal Soriot, however, reassured that low-income countries would continue to receive vaccines on a non-profit basis.


Friday, November 19, 2021 – 01:00

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