World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Thursday warned countries about the third wave of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Unfortunately…we are now in the early stages of a third wave,” he said. Tedros also said the virus was continuing to evolve, resulting in more transmissible variants. “The Delta variant is now in more than 111 countries and we expect it to soon be the dominant Covid-19 strain circulating worldwide, if it isn’t already,” he added.

WHO chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan had also said on July 9 that the pandemic was not slowing down. She had cited the fast-spreading Delta variant, easing of lockdown restrictions, relaxation of safety mandates and the slow pace of vaccinations as the primary reasons for the continuing spread of the coronavirus.

The global health body had designated Delta strain, first detected in India, as a variant of concern on May 11. In June, Swaminathan had said the Delta variant was becoming the dominant variant globally “because of its significantly increased transmissibility”.

On distribution of vaccines

Meanwhile, Tedros on Wednesday also pointed out that there was a disparity in distribution of vaccines globally.

“While many countries haven’t even started vaccinating and another country has already vaccinated the majority of its population – the two doses – and now moving towards a third dose which is a booster, it doesn’t even make any sense,” he said.

Tedros urged vaccine manufacturers to work together to reduce the global gap. “Vaccines can be produced and the world can be opened up,” he added.

The WHO chief emphasised that vaccines alone will not not stop the infection spread. He asked countries to persist with a “tailored and consistent approach” to tackle the pandemic.

Last week, the global health body had urged governments to be cautious while easing restrictions in their countries.

In April, the United States’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had said that fully vaccinated people did not need to wear masks in most indoor settings.

Earlier this month, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that all restrictions would be lifted on July 19, branding it as “Freedom Day.” Responding to the announcement, a group of scientists, doctors and other professionals published a letter in medical journal The Lancet, urging the government to reconsider its current strategy.

Globally, the coronavirus disease has infected over 18.83 crore people and killed over 40.57 lakh since the pandemic broke out in December 2019, according to Johns Hopkins University.