The highly contagious Delta variant of covid-19 should become dominant in the coming months, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Wednesday.
Delta, first identified in India, has been detected so far in 124 territories - 13 more than last week - and already accounts for more than three-quarters of the samples sequenced in many countries, the WHO said.
"It is expected to rapidly outpace other variants and become the dominant circulating lineage in the coming months," the UN health agency said in its weekly epidemiological report.
Of the three other so-called worrisome (VOC) coronavirus variants, Alpha, first detected in Great Britain, was detected in 180 territories (six more than last week), Beta, first detected in South Africa, in 130 (seven more) and Gamma, detected for the first time in Brazil, in 78 (three more).
According to the SARS-CoV-2 sequences submitted to the global scientific initiative GISAID to share data on viruses, for four weeks until July 20, the prevalence of Delta exceeded 75% in several countries.
These include Australia, Bangladesh, Botswana, Great Britain, China, Denmark, India, Indonesia, Israel, Portugal, Russia, Singapore, and South Africa.
The Geneva-based organization said that a total of 18 million new cases of covid-3,4 were registered in the week to July 19, 12% more than the previous week.
"At this rate, the cumulative number of reported cases worldwide is expected to exceed 200 million in the next three weeks," WHO said.