More than 90% of Covid cases in the UK are now due to the Delta coronavirus variant first discovered in India, the data revealed, as the total number of confirmed cases exceeded 42,000.
Also known as B.1.617.2, the Delta variant has been linked to an increase in Covid cases in the UK in recent weeks. It is thought to spread more easily than the Alpha variant, B.1.1.7, which was first detected in Kent, and is somewhat more resistant to Covid vaccines, particularly after a single dose. It can also be associated with an increased risk of hospitalization.
Now Public Health England (PHE) has revealed that up to 96% of new Covid cases in the UK involve the Delta variant, and that it has a 60% higher risk of domestic transmission compared to the Alpha variant.
The report further revealed that cases of the virus double between every 4.5 and 11.5 days, depending on the region, while confirmed cases to date have risen from 29,892 to 42,323.
The sharp jump in cases is due, in part, to the use of a new technique to determine the variant present in a positive Covid sample. Previously, positive samples were sent to labs for whole genome sequencing, a process that took five to 10 days to return results.
However, the new data includes results of a faster approach known as genotyping in which, instead of looking at the entire genome of the virus to determine which variant is involved, only key sections of the genome are examined. This gives results within 48 hours, and the report reveals that it is very accurate when it comes to choosing the Delta variant.
Using this approach, coupled with the more time-consuming genome sequencing technique, the team says that the most recent data shows that 96% of Covid cases involve the Delta variant.
Dr Jenny Harries, Executive Director of the UK Health Security Agency, urged people eligible for vaccination to come forward to receive the vaccine.
“With the number of Delta variant cases increasing across the country, vaccination is our best defense,” he said, noting that two doses provide significantly greater protection than a single dose.
“However, while vaccination reduces the risk of serious disease, it does not eliminate it,” he added.
That is backed by the data. According to the report, from the beginning of February to June 7, there were 33,206 Delta cases: while 19,573 were in unvaccinated people, 1,785 among fully vaccinated people and 7,559 among those who had received an injection, with the vaccination status of the rest unclear.
In total, 383 people were admitted to the hospital with the Delta variant during that period, 223 of whom tested positive for Covid before presenting to A&E, 42 of whom received two doses of the jab, 86 had one dose, and 251 were unvaccinated. .
Of the 42 deaths recorded, 23 were in unvaccinated people, 12 among those who were fully vaccinated, and seven among those who had received a dose.
“With data showing that Delta is significantly more communicable than Alpha, it is as important as ever to follow public health advice, which has not changed,” said Harries.
“Get vaccinated, work from home where you can and remember ‘hands, face, space, fresh air’ at all times. These measures work and save lives. “
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism