|Hard-won gains are at risk as COVID-19 Delta variant spreads, said WHO. (Photo: AP)
WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said COVID-19 infections have increased by 80 per cent over the past four weeks in most regions of the world. Deaths in Africa - where only 1.5 per cent of the population is vaccinated - rose by 80 percent over the same period.
Tedros told a news conference that hard-won gains are in jeopardy or being lost, and health systems in many countries are being overwhelmed.
The Delta variant has been detected in 132 countries, becoming the dominant global strain, according to the WHO.
Maria van Kerkhove, WHO technical lead on COVID-19, said the Delta variant was the most easily spread so far, about 50 per cent more transmissible than ancestral strains of SARS-CoV-2 that first emerged in China in late 2019.
WHO's top emergency expert Mike Ryan said the vaccines that are currently approved by the WHO all provide significant protection against severe disease and hospitalisation from all the variants, including the Delta variant.