Delta variant fuels aggressive COVID-19 third wave in Africa: WHO

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The World Health Organisation (WHO) says the Delta variant is fueling an aggressive third wave of COVID-19 in Africa.

The variant has been reported in 16 countries, including nine with surging cases.

WHO Africa regional director, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, told a virtual media briefing that the Delta variant is now in three of the five countries reporting the highest caseloads for the week ending 27 June.

In its weekly report, the WHO Africa office noted that the Delta variant, first identified in India is dominant in South Africa, and was detected in 97% of samples sequenced in Uganda and 79% of samples sequenced in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

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“The speed and scale of Africa’s third wave is like nothing we have seen before. Cases are doubling every three weeks, compared to every four weeks at the start of the second wave,” adds Dr Moeti.

Dr Moeti further noted that the Alpha variant has been detected in most countries in North, West and Central Africa, while Beta is more widespread in the South.

Both variants are considerably more transmissible than the original virus.

“The Delta variant is the most contagious [virus] we have seen. It has been found in 16 African countries so far, including three out of the five countries reporting the most new cases. In South Africa, it has overtaken the Beta variant to become dominant,” she explains.

On vaccines, Dr Moeti noted that although eight vaccines have now been approved, shipments to Africa have halted completely.

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