The World Health Organisation has said that the Delta variant of the coronavirus has now triggered a fourth wave of the pandemic in the Middle East region. It also added that the surge in Covid-19 infections and deaths is primarily being reported among people who are yet to be vaccinated.
In a statement released by the global health body, it has said, “The circulation of the Delta variant is fuelling the surge in COVID-19 cases and deaths in an increasing number of countries in WHO’s Eastern Mediterranean Region. It is now being reported in 15 out of the 22 countries of the Region.”
Showing concern over the increasing number of cases WHO notes that Iran, Iraq, Tunisia, and Libya are the countries worst hit by the recent surge in Covid-19 cases in the Middle East.
On an average of the last four weeks, over 3,10,000 new cases and 3,500 deaths have been reported per week, which is a 55% and 15% increase in the number of cases and deaths, respectively, compared to the previous month.
In the region, massive shortages of oxygen tanks and intensive care beds have stretched the capacities of the healthcare system and the rapid spread of the Delta variant was quickly making it “the dominant strain” increasing the troubles.
A paper published in the journal Virological found that the amount of virus found in the first tests of patients with the Delta variant was 1,000 times higher than patients in the first wave of the virus in 2020, greatly increasing its contagiousness.
The WHO also encouraged higher-income countries to donate doses of the vaccines to low- and lower-middle-income countries to overcome the global shortages and grossly inequitable distribution of vaccines.
In the entire middle-east, only 41 million people (a mere 5.5% of the region’s population) had been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 till the last week in July which is way less than the WHO’s target for 10 per cent of the population of all countries to be fully vaccinated by September, 40 per cent by the end of 2021, and 70 per cent by mid-2022.
WHO’s target looks more and more unachievable with every passing day unless high-income countries, many of which have already exceeded these targets, are willing to donate vaccines to the ones with shortages.