While there are various range of COVID-19 variants, the Delta variant is the fastest, fittest and most formidable version of the coronavirus and as many countries, cities plan to resume activities, virologists and epidemiologists have already cautioned of the next wave of pandemic.
The overall global Covid-19 caseload has topped 193.6 million, while the deaths have surged to more than 4.15 million and vaccinations soared to over 3.81 billion, according to the Johns Hopkins University. The US continues to be the worst-hit country with the world's highest number of cases and deaths at 34,426,844 and 610,833, respectively, according to the CSSE. In terms of infections, India follows in the second place with 31,332,159 cases
According to top COVID-19 experts, vaccine protection remains very strong against severe infections and hospitalizations caused by any version of the coronavirus, and those most at risk are still the unvaccinated.
However, the Delta variant is a cause of higher concern as it spreads far more easily from person to person, increasing infections and hospitalizations among the unvaccinated. First identified in India, the variant does not makes people sicker.
According to a Reuters report, experts said that Delta variant is capable of infecting fully vaccinated people at a greater rate than previous versions, and concerns have been raised that they may even spread the virus.
Besides, WHO's Regional Office for Europe (WHO/Europe), surveillance data from the period between June 28 and July 11 shows that Delta was the dominant variant of SARS-CoV-2 in at least 19 of the 28 European countries that reported sufficient genetic sequencing information.
In these 19 countries, the median proportion of Delta variant detected in samples sent for genetic sequencing was 68.3 per cent. In comparison, the previously dominant Alpha variant was found in only 22.3 per cent of the samples.
"The biggest risk to the world at the moment is simply Delta," said microbiologist Sharon Peacock, who runs Britain's efforts to sequence the genomes of coronavirus variants, calling it the "fittest and fastest variant yet."
Public Health England said on Friday that out of a total of 3,692 people hospitalized in Britain with the Delta variant, 58.3% were unvaccinated and 22.8% were fully vaccinated.
In Singapore, where Delta is the most common variant, government officials reported on Friday that three quarters of its coronavirus cases occurred among vaccinated individuals, though none were severely ill.
The Delta variant represents about 83% of new infections in the United States, which has experienced more COVID-19 cases and deaths than any other country.