While the outbreak appears to have peaked in India — with 853 deaths recorded over the past 24 hours — the more virulent variant that spurred its spring wave is now seeding new virus clusters from Moscow to Jakarta to rural Missouri.
The delta variant, first detected in India, has caused steep spikes in new cases even in nations with high vaccination rates such as Britain and Israel, which on Thursday recorded its highest daily infection rate in three months, the Associated Press reported.
On Friday, England’s public health authority said that new delta cases had risen 46 percent over the past week, with the variant accounting for about 95 percent of infections across Britain. And in France, Health Minister Olivier Veran said Friday that the variant now makes up around a third of new cases, Reuters reported, after saying earlier this week that it represented approximately just 20 percent of infections.
Officials in both Britain and Israel, however, have credited the vaccines — including those developed by Oxford-AstraZeneca and Pfizer-BioNTech — with weakening the link between infections and deaths.
“Although cases are rising, we are not seeing a proportional rise in the number of people who are being admitted to hospital,” Jenny Harries, chief executive of Britain’s Health Security Agency, said in a statement Friday.
Studies suggest that all three U.S.-approved vaccines work well against the delta variant, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday is also on track to become dominant in the United States in the coming weeks.
According to CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, who spoke at a White House briefing Thursday, the delta variant now accounts for nearly 50 percent of new infections in parts of the United States, including in what she described as “vulnerable” regions where inoculation rates are low.
Katerina Ang in Singapore contributed to this report.