The Delta variant of COVID-19, first identified in India, is becoming the globally dominant variant of the disease, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan said on Friday.
Swaminathan also voiced disappointment in the failure of CureVac's vaccine candidate in a trial to meet the WHO's efficacy standard, in particular as highly transmissible variants boost the need for new, effective shots.
Britain has reported a steep rise in infections with the Delta variant, while Germany's top public health official predicted it would rapidly become the dominant variant there despite rising vaccination rates.
The Kremlin blamed a surge in COVID-19 cases on reluctance to have vaccinations and "nihilism" after record new infections in Moscow, mostly with the new Delta variant, fanned fears of a third wave.
WHO officials said Africa remains an area of concern, even though it accounts for only around 5% of new global infections and 2% of deaths.
New cases in Namibia, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Rwanda have doubled in the last week.