Berlin: A leading group of virologists and epidemiologists believe the delta variant of the coronavirus is the fastest, fittest and most formidable version the world has seen.
Ten leading COVID-19 experts have weighed in with their opinions and say that there is growing evidence that the delta variant is capable of infecting fully vaccinated people in rates greater than previous versions.
They also said that vaccine protection remains strong against severe infection, and that those most at risk are still those who have yet to be vaccinated.
Speaking to the Reuters news agency, microbiologist Sharon Peacock said, "the biggest risk to the world at the moment is simply delta." Peacock, who is running Britain's genome sequencing of coronavirus variants, also called it the "fittest and fastest variant yet."
Here's a look at the latest coronavirus news in other parts of the world:
Australia's New South Wales state has reported a rise in new coronavirus infections, with 145 cases recorded Monday, up from 141 a day earlier.
Massive anti-lockdown protests erupted over the weekend in Sydney, which is under a weekslong stay-at-home order.
Out of the newly diagnosed cases, 51 were active in the community before testing positive, raising the risk of transmission. State officials said they want that number to drop to zero in order to lift the restrictions.
"Some settings might change. We might need to go harder in some areas and release some settings in others," said Gladys Berejiklian, the state premier.
Meanwhile, Victoria state reported 11 new infections, although all were in quarantine during their infectious period. Authorities in Victoria said they would decide the next day whether to lift restrictions as hoped.
South Korea has started vaccinating people aged 55 to 59 amid the fourth wave of COVID-19.
Earlier this month, South Korea had halted rolling out the coronavirus jab for this age group after available supplies were exhausted and the official reservation website crashed due to high demand.
South Korea’s health ministry said they have been informed about a production issue with the Moderna vaccine, potentially causing a dent in the country’s vaccination drive.
Tokyo Olympics organizers reported 16 new Games-related coronavirus cases on Monday — bringing the total number since July 1 to 153.
The Tokyo Games are being held without spectators amid a rise in coronavirus infections in Japan in recent weeks.
Close to 80% of Singapore’s population is expected to be fully vaccinated by early September, according to Health Minister Ong Ye Kung. Currently, about 54% people have received both shots of either the BioNTech-Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.
Malaysia’s parliament is set to reopen on Monday after a seven-month virus-induced suspension. The government said it will not extend the country’s coronvirus emergency beyond August 1.
The emergency had allowed the government to pause parliamentary proceedings since January, allowing Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin to rule by ordinance.
The government of Nepal has extended an ongoing lockdown in the Kathmandu valley by 10 days to curb the spread of the virus. The lockdown, which began in April as COVID cases sky-rocketed, will remain in place till August 4, officials said.
Bangladesh logged the highest number of coronavirus cases and deaths in a single day, even although a strict lockdown is currently in force.
According to health officials there were 15,192 new infections and 247 deaths reported in a 24-hour period.
On Monday, the United States President Joe Biden said that government would maintain travel restrictions due to a surge in the delta variant.
He also announced an initiative to prohibit discrimination against those suffering from long-term symptoms of COVID-19.
Biden made the remarks at an event marking the 31st anniversary of the enactment of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Meanwhile US First Lady Jill Biden urged Hawaiians to get the jab as the coronavirus delta variant surges through much of the country.
"I'm here to ask everyone listening right now, to choose to get vaccinated," Biden said as she visited a pop-up coronavirus vaccination clinic in Waipahu, Hawaii.
She said the virus has become "more contagious than ever," calling on the unvaccinated to "help us move past this virus once and for all."
Hawaii's seven-day daily average for new infections increased 192% from July 10 to Friday, the Associated Press reported, citing the state's health department.
New York City municipal workers including police officers and teachers will be required to get vaccinated or face weekly testing for COVID-19 according to the city’s mayor, Bill de Blasio. Around 340,000 employees will be affected.
Brazil’s health chiefs say China’s Sinopharm has applied for emergency use authorization for its vaccine.
Sinovac Biotech’s Coronavac is already in use in the country and is currently the most widely administered shot.
Brazilian health agency Anvisa said it would be reviewing the application.
South Africa has eased lockdown restrictions as a recent third wave surge in infections appears to have passed its peak.
In an address to the nation, President Cyril Ramaphosa said that there had been a 20% drop in new confirmed cases when compared to the previous week.
The lockdowns have had a severe impact on the country’s battered economy with many businesses being forced to shut down.
Ghana's president, Nana Akufo-Addo, said his country was hoping to receive at least 18 million doses of the coronavirus jab before October.
His remarks came as coronavirus cases rise across West Africa.
"Our nation is experiencing a third wave of COVID-19 infections," Akufo-Addo said. "These increased infections have largely been driven by the delta variant."
Ghana is buying 17 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, the president said, adding that the government is also receiving 1 million doses of the BioNTech-Pfizer jab from the US.
France's parliament on Monday approved a law to tackle a fourth wave of the coronavirus pandemic despite massive protests against the measures.
The new law makes vaccinations against COVID-19 mandatory for health workers, who risk suspension if they don't take the jab by September 15.
It also requires special health passes for people to enter various social venues, including restaurants and bars, from the beginning of August.
France had already denied visitors' entry to museums, cinemas or swimming pools without proof of vaccination against the virus or a recent negative test.
The measures contained in the bill — which still needs approval from the constitutional court — are due to expire November 15.
About 40 million people in Francehave received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, President Emmanuel Macron said. This amounts to nearly 60% of the country’s population.
The number of coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 958 and deaths rose by three, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases reported on Monday. The seven-day incidence on Monday was 14.3, up from 13.8 the previous day, according to the RKI.
The Heathrow Airport has urged the United Kingdom to open up travel for vaccinated individuals as its cumulative pandemic losses rose to $4 billion.
The London airport, which was the busiest airport in Europe before the pandemic, said less than four million people had passed through the airport in the first six months of 2021. This number would have been surpassed within 18 days in 2019.
Greece will make COVID-19 vaccinations available to children aged between 12 to 15 in August.
The country’s Health Minister Vassilis Kikilias said that vaccination would be optional.
Greece is currently battling a surge in infections due to the infectious delta variant.