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Delta variant to become dominant coronavirus strain within months, WHO warns

GENEVA — The highly contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus is expected to become the dominant strain of the virus over the coming months, the World Health Organization says.

Delta, which was first detected in India, has now been recorded in 124 territories — 13 more than last week — and already accounts for more than three-quarters of sequenced specimens in many major countries, the WHO says.

“It is expected that it will rapidly out-compete other variants and become the dominant circulating lineage over the coming months,” the UN health agency says in its weekly epidemiological update.

Of the three other coronavirus variants of concern (VOCs), Alpha, first detected in Britain, has been reported in 180 territories (up six from last week), Beta, first detected in South Africa, in 130 (up seven) and Gamma, first detected in Brazil, in 78 (up three).

According to SARS-CoV-2 sequences submitted to the GISAID global science initiative over the four weeks to July 20, the prevalence of Delta exceeded 75 percent in several countries.

Those included Australia, Bangladesh, Botswana, Britain, China, Denmark, India, Indonesia, Israel, Portugal, Russia, Singapore and South Africa.

“Growing evidence supports the increased transmissibility of the Delta variant as compared to non-VOCs. However, the exact mechanism for the increase in transmissibility remains unclear,” says the WHO.

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