Washington: Amid global concern over the Delta variant of the COVID-19, America's Surgeon General Dr Vivek Murthy has said that it is significantly more transmissible and more dangerous in terms of severity of illness that it causes.
Dr Murthy told MSNBC on Wednesday, "We have seen how quickly it has taken over in the United Kingdom, where it's become - getting close to 100 per cent of new COVID cases, Delta. And we have seen a surge here too. So I am worried."
He added, "I'm quite worried about the Delta variant. It is more transmissible, significantly more transmissible. It also may be more dangerous in terms of severity of illness that it causes."
Dr Murthy said, "I'm worried about those who are not vaccinated, because what we have found is, based on the studies coming out of the UK, that if you are vaccinated, you are actually quite well-protected particularly against hospitalizations and deaths."
"The worry is if you're not vaccinated, that you're at even greater risk than you were before. So, what I don't want to see is a growing divide in our country between the unvaccinated and vaccinated. We've got to close that gap. That's why we're working so hard to get people vaccinated everywhere," America's surgeon General said in response to a question.
He further said, "Your level of risk, your kid's level of risk really depends on where you live and how high the community vaccination rates are. And this is why we always say - and I say this as a dad who's got two young kids, three and four, whose - we don't have a vaccine available for kids that young. So, I'm worried about my kids, just like any other parents are."
Dr Murthy added, "This is why we say the vaccination effort is more about what you're doing for yourself. It's about the step you're taking to help protect those around you from getting infected because even if you don't get seriously ill, you can transmit the virus to others who are more vulnerable."
So far, 65.4 per cent of Americans have received at least one dose, 55.9 per cent are fully vaccinated, while the vaccination rate for age 12 and older is at 62.5 per cent, and over 18 years is at 65.4 per cent.
France urges vigilance against Delta variant
French government spokesperson Gabriel Attal on Wednesday warned that the Delta variant of the novel coronavirus "must be of concern to us", urging individual and collective vigilance to prevent a spiral of infections due to the more contagious variant.
"There is a threat (of epidemic resurgence) linked to the Delta variant," Attal told RMC radio, Xinhua news agency reported. "We can see that things can go very quickly ... and that requires individual and collective vigilance."
The France government spokesperson reiterated that vaccine is a weapon against the pandemic, adding "The more we continue to be vaccinated, the more we will be able to protect ourselves against variants."
First identified in India, the Delta variant is the fastest and fittest coronavirus strain that will "pick off" the most vulnerable people, the World Health Organization said on Monday.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel cautions against Delta variant
Chancellor Angela Merkel called for further caution over the Covid-19 crisis during her last government question session in the Bundestag on Wednesday.
"Even if the third wave has been impressively broken, the pandemic is not over yet," said Merkel. "We are still on thin ice." Keeping distance, hygiene and the use of protective masks in certain situations were still "important protective measures and will remain important," she added, Xinhua reported.
She also highlighted the threat posed by the spreading of coronavirus mutations, adding "We must not now lightly risk what we have achieved together."
Germany`s incidence rate of Covid-19 cases per 100,000 inhabitants in the past seven days continued to fall to 7.2 on Wednesday, according to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI). A week ago, the country`s seven-day incidence rate stood at 13.
The number of new daily Covid-19 infections also remained below the previous week`s level as 1,016 new cases were registered in Germany on Wednesday, according to the RKI.
(With PTI/IANS Inputs)