The World Health Organization said that the surge of Covid-19 cases in the Middle East is driven by the Delta variant. The UN body called it the fourth wave triggered by the highly transmissible strain of coronavirus.
The official statement of the UN said that the circulation of the Delta variant is fuelling the surge in Covid-19 cases and deaths in an increasing number of countries in WHO's Eastern Mediterranean Region, reported AFP.
Vaccination rates are still low in the Middle East. As of the last week of July, only 41 million people (5.5%) of the region's population, had been fully vaccinated.
In the fourth wave, infections have increased by 55% and fatalities by 15%. Compared to June, more than 310,000 cases and 3,500 deaths have been recorded weekly in July. The healthcare systems in the region are struggling due to a shortage of medical oxygen tanks and intensive care beds.
Director of WHO's Eastern Mediterranean region, Ahmed al-Mandhari said that most of the new Covid-19 cases and hospitalised patients are unvaccinated. The WHO said that the rapid spread of the Delta variant is making it the "dominant strain" in the region.
A recent report in the journal Virological, the amount of virus found in the first tests of patients with the Delta variant was 1,000 times higher than patients in the first wave of the virus in 2020, greatly increasing its contagiousness.
The Delta variant was first detected in India and has been recorded in 15 out of 22 countries of the Middle East region, stretching from Morocco to Pakistan.