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City of Tshwane health workers doing free Covid-19 testing on June 30 in Pretoria, South Africa. Photo: Alet Pretorius/Gallo Images via Getty Images

The number of new coronavirus cases in Africa is doubling every three weeks as the continent faces a wave of Delta variant infections, the World Health Organization announced Thursday.

Why it matters: The COVID-19 variant first discovered in India has been reported in 16 African countries and is dominant in South Africa, which accounted for over half of Africa’s cases for the week ending in June 27.

  • The variant was detected in 97% of samples in Uganda and in 79% of samples in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the World Health Organization said citing the latest country reports.
  • Only 15 million people — just 1.2% of the continent's population of 1.3 billion — are fully vaccinated.

By the numbers: South Africa reported more than 20,000 new cases on Friday.

What they're saying: Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO’s regional director for Africa, said the "speed and scale of Africa’s third wave is like nothing we’ve seen before."

“The rampant spread of more contagious variants pushes the threat to Africa up to a whole new level,” Moeti said in a statement. “More transmission means more serious illness and more deaths, so everyone must act now and boost prevention measures to stop an emergency becoming a tragedy.”

Go deeper

Updated 6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Vaccines: Benefits of J&J COVID-19 vaccine outweigh risks, per CDC data — Why vaccinated America can't turn its back on unvaccinated America.
  2. Health: A reality check on the GOP's push for coronavirus antibody testing — NYC to require COVID vaccination or weekly testing for city workers — Over 50 medical groups call for mandatory vaccinations for health care workers — Savannah reimposes indoor mask mandate.
  3. Politics: Biden: Americans with long-COVID symptoms may qualify for disability resources — Prominent Republicans find new enthusiasm for COVID-19 vaccines — GOP Rep. Clay Higgins says he has COVID for second time.
  4. Sports: Golfer Bryson DeChambeau will miss Olympics after testing positive for COVID— NFL raises vaccine pressure
  5. World: Israel to require vaccine certificates to attend social events.
  6. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.
Jul 1, 2021 - Health

COVID vaccines boost Walgreens

Walgreens said pharmacy profit margins soared due to the vaccines. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Walgreens has given out 25 million COVID-19 vaccinations in its stores this year, including 17 million from March through May.

Why it matters: Walgreens executives said the vaccines were the main reason why the company recorded higher foot traffic, sales and profits in the quarter. But this boost may be short-lived, as demand for vaccines has slowed down considerably since late April.

2 hours ago - World

Biden: U.S. combat mission in Iraq will end this year

Biden returning to the White House on July 25. Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images

The United States' combat mission against the Islamic State in Iraq will be completed "by the end of the year," President Biden said Monday prior to a meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi.

Why it matters: Biden is close to shifting the U.S. military mission in Iraq to a fully advisory role more than 18 years after combat troops were sent to the country under the former President George W. Bush.