The number of worldwide deaths from COVID-19 jumped 21 per cent over the past week, the World Health Organization (WHO) has said, as the Delta variant continues to wreak havoc.
Most of the 69,000 deaths were reported in the Americas and Southeast Asia, taking the cumulative deaths to over 4 million, the UN agency said in its weekly epidemiological update.
“The highest numbers of deaths per 100,000 population over the past week were observed in the Americas and Southeast Asia Regions, which reported 2.8 and 1.1 new deaths per 100,000 population, respectively,” the report said.
Overall COVID-19 cases also jumped by 8 per cent as about 540,000 daily infections were reported on average over the past week. The WHO warned: “If these trends continue, the cumulative number of [positive] cases reported globally could exceed 200 million in the next two weeks.”
Over the past week, the biggest numbers of new Covid-19 cases were reported from the US, Brazil, Indonesia, Britain and India, the report said.
While the US and Brazil reported an increase in positive cases, Indonesia and Britain reported a decline. India reported negligible change in the last week.
The highly contagious Delta variant has now been detected in 132 countries, as per the report.
Addressing the widespread concern over vaccine efficacy against variants of concern, the WHO said that though studies have shown a several-fold reduction in neutralisation against variants, it does not directly correlate with reduced vaccine efficacy.
The agency said there is currently no known threshold of neutralisation below which vaccines stop working. It also noted that some vaccines produce higher neutralising antibody concentrations, so a reduction will “likely have a lesser effect” on the vaccine efficacy.