How concerned should we be about the Delta variant of COVID-19?

  • How concerned should we be about the Delta variant of COVID-19?

How concerned should we be about the Delta variant of COVID-19?

The so-called Nepal variant is believed to be a mutated version of the Indian variant, with a spike mutation, known as K417N.

The Delta variant of Covid-19, or the B1.617.2 highly transmissible variant of concern (VOC) first identified in India, has now become the dominant VOC in the United Kingdom and may also come with an increased risk of hospitalisation, health officials in Britain have said.

The latest PHE data also suggests there have been 97 confirmed Covid-19 outbreaks in schools that have had at least one variant case linked to them over the most recent four-week period - the equivalent of around one in 250 schools.

Of these, 10,797 (87 per cent) were in England, 1,511 (12 per cent) in Scotland, 97 in Wales and 26 in Northern Ireland.

In England, the cases are spread across the country, and the most affected areas include Bolton in Greater Manchester (2,149 cases), Blackburn with Darwen in Lancashire (724), Bedford (608), Leicester (349), Manchester (278) and Birmingham (223).

A latest study by the government agencies show that the Delta variant is "more infectious" than the Alpha variant first detected in Kent, UK.

The Nepal variant contains the K417N mutation, which has also been found in the coronavirus strain first detected in South Africa (Beta).

Meanwhile, a paper by the Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology showed that Delhi's surge in Covid-19 cases in April was linked to the Delta variant overtaking the Alpha variant, the Hindustan Times reported.

But again, we're still waiting for data on the key question of how much the jabs protect against severe disease and death from the Delta variant.

He said that this dual threat - that the new mutation could make the virus more transmissible and more resistant to vaccines - means scientists are monitoring it carefully.

"WHO is not aware of any new variant of SARS-CoV-2 being detected in Nepal".

- Will vaccines work against the Indian variant?

She said that only 5% (seven) hospital admissions were people who have been fully vaccinated, "suggesting that vaccination still appears to be making an impact on spread".

But there are still low numbers of people being admitted to hospital with any variant, and PHE stress that more data is needed to confirm this analysis. "It's not good enough, but it's still something and a second dose would be better", he said. "It is a variant of interest and of concern".

Professor Christina Pagel, director of the clinical operational research unit at the University College London, said the figure was evidence that schools were now a "major source" of transmission of the infection, especially after the government allowed secondary schools students to attend classes without wearing masks from last month.

All viruses undergo small genetic changes as they make copies of themselves in the host.

The PHE has designated the Indian, Kent, South African, and Brazilian (Gamma) variants as being "of concern".

The UK Government has a deal with biopharmaceutical company CureVac to develop vaccines against future variants, and has pre-ordered 50 million doses.