File Photo: Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the World Health Organization (AFP)
The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases worldwide has been decreasing for the sixth week in a row, but the more contagious variants of the virus are spreading fast, the World Health Organization (WHO) said in its weekly pandemic report published on Wednesday.
The number of new coronavirus cases has dropped by 11 percent since last week, and North America, South America, Europe, Africa and the Western Pacific region all reported decreases.
The Americas have seen the largest weekly decline with 19 percent, while the US still has the highest number of weekly cases at 480,467.
The number of deaths is also trending downward, the WHO said, dropping by 20 percent worldwide since last week.
According to the WHO report, since the beginning of the pandemic 110 million infections and 2.5 million deaths have been recorded globally. These figures are expected to increase further as new, more contagious variants of the virus have been detected worldwide.
The WHO report said that 101 countries have already confirmed the presence of the variant that was first found in the United Kingdom (UK), while the strain first detected in South Africa has been identified in 51 countries.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the WHO, has warned recently that although the world has seen a continuous decrease in new cases, "the fire is not out...If we stop fighting (the virus) on any front, it will come roaring back."
As the world is struggling to contain the pandemic, vaccination is underway in some countries with the already-authorized coronavirus vaccines.
Meanwhile, 255 candidate vaccines are still being developed worldwide -- 73 of them in clinical trials -- in countries including Germany, China, Russia, Britain and the United States, according to information released by the WHO on Feb. 23.