The World Health Organisation on Friday, 2nd July 2021 urged countries to increase vaccination efforts and public health measures following  the surge in Covid-19 cases around the world. The increase in new Covid-19 cases, especially in countries with low vaccination coverage, has been attributed to the Delta variant (B.1.617.2) of the virus.

The Delta variant was first identified in December 2020 in India and was responsible for the second coronavirus wave in India. The variant has currently spread to 98 countries across the world, with the first case in the United States identified in March 2021. Other notable Covid-19 variants include the Alpha variant (B.1.1.7), Beta variant (B.1.351) and the Gamma variant (P.1).

Here are five facts to know about the Delta variant of the Covid-19 virus:

1. It spreads fast: According to Public Health England, the Delta form accounted for 99 percent of Covid-19 cases in the UK by mid-June, and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control estimates that it will account for 90 percent of cases in Europe by the end of August.

2. It the most transmissible of the Covid-19 variants: The director-general of the World Health Organisation, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, on Friday stated that the Delta variant is the most transmissible of the Covid-19 variants. Its increased transmissibility is attributed to a group of mutationthat make it easier for it to infect human cells.

3. Vaccines do not give 100% protection: According to reports released by Moderna, fully vaccinated people are protected against the variant but as with other vaccines, they are not guaranteed 100% protection. The risk of infection increases with unvaccinated people, thus the call by the WHO for countries to increase vaccination efforts.

4. There is no evidence of increased virulence: Despite the fact that the Delta variant is more transmissible than the other lineages, there have been no confirmed reports that the variant has an increased virulence or severity of disease. The E484K and N501Y mutations seen  in the Alpha, Beta and Gamma variants, which were responsible for the severe cases in 2020, have been shown to be absent in the Delta variant.

5. Public health safety measures prevent transmission: Safety measures such as maintaining social distancing, wearing a face mask, handwashing and sanitising help to prevent the spread if the virus.



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