WHO scientist: Delta variant is 'predominant worldwide'

WHO scientist: Delta variant is 'predominant worldwide'
© Getty images

A scientist at the World Health Organization (WHO) said Tuesday that the delta variant of the coronavirus has become “predominant worldwide.”

“If delta is identified or starts to circulate in a country where there's beta, in South Africa for example, it has quickly replaced the variants there, so delta is predominant worldwide, so far, based on all of the available sequences that have been shared,” Maria Van Kerkhove, who serves as the WHO’s technical lead on COVID-19, said during a virtual Q&A event.

Kerkhove added that the delta variant — which she said is “by far” the most transmissible strain of COVID-19 — has been reported in more than 185 countries thus far.

ADVERTISEMENT

The alpha, beta and gamma coronavirus strains, which have all been labeled variants of concern by the WHO, each make up less than 1 percent of available sequences that have been shared globally, according to Kerkhove, illustrating how widespread the delta variant is worldwide.

The delta variant has been a chief concern among health experts in the U.S., as the highly contagious strain has caused cases to spike nationwide.

For the past month, the U.S. has been tracking well over 100,000 daily COVID-19 cases, which was up from the roughly 12,000 daily cases recorded in late June, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The vast majority of recent coronavirus hospitalizations and deaths, however, have been among unvaccinated individuals, which further illustrates the effectiveness of the shots in protecting against severe illness.

Sixty-three percent of the total U.S. population has received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, according to the CDC.