Tuesday, 28 September, 2021

Delta variant caused deadly second wave - Indian study

UK Covid-19 news UK coronavirus variant Delta variant UK UK covid news UK virus variant latest news Delta variant in UK India Delta Variant Covid-19 news India coronavirus variant UK latest news People queue up to receive a coronavirus vaccination at Twickenham rugby stadium south-west London
Gustavo Carr | 07 June, 2021, 20:18

Data shows prevalence of the Indian variant continues to be highest in the North West of England in Bolton and Blackburn with Darwen - two local authorities that have seen extra vaccinations deployed in an attempt to protect residents against B.1.617.2's tightening grip on their local areas.

Early evidence from Public Health England (PHE) published on Thursday suggests this version of Covid-19 may lead to an increased risk of being admitted to hospital compared with the previously dominant Kent variant (Alpha).

In Bedford there have now been 608 confirmed cases, while Leicester has recorded 349 cases, 278 cases in Manchester and 223 cases in Birmingham.

Dr Jeff Barrett, director of the COVID-19 Genomics Initiative at the Wellcome Sanger Institute, said there have been 91 sequences observed of the Indian variant containing this specific mutation.

PHE officials said that the Delta variant has now overtaken the Kent variant, known as Alpha, as the most dominant. "We are studying the role of the Delta variant in breakthrough infections, or infections post vaccination, and will submit a report soon", he said.

Asked if the latest data could affect the further unlocking of the country on 21 June, Prof Ferguson said: "I think the data is pointing this week in a more negative direction than it was last week so it points towards the direction of being cautious".

- What about the Nepal variant?

The number of deaths remained relatively low, however, with 11 more reported, reflecting the impact of a vaccination campaign that has delivered one dose to three-quarters of adults and two to just over half.

Experts believe this mutation has the potential to allow the virus to evade protection from vaccines to some degree. More work is underway to test neutralizing antibodies against these same variants in people who have been vaccinated with the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine.

The Health Secretary said the Government "always expected cases to rise" as lockdown was eased, and that ministers were being "tough" on worldwide travel rules to preserve the route out of lockdown in the United Kingdom by preventing new variants from taking hold.

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Data is still being gathered on whether the vaccine will be effective against the new variant.

While outbreaks in schools are now at low levels, there has been a slight increase over recent weeks in line with higher levels of the Delta variant circulating in the community.

Importantly, this antibody response was even lower in people who had only received one dose.

Meanwhile, new laboratory data published on Thursday suggests that people who have received the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine have fewer antibodies targeting the Indian variant - although real-world data is needed to confirm this.

NHS England said 33,525,485 were the first dose of a vaccine, a rise of 150,337 on the previous day, while 23,077,511 were a second dose, an increase of 321,602. "This will reduce UK's rising risk from the Delta variant".

Viruses normally create variants as they make copies of themselves.

Most of these mutations are harmless but some can make the disease more infectious or threatening, and evade protection gained through infection or vaccination.

The change is in the spike protein and has been seen before, including in the so-called South African or Beta variant.

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

PHE's 3 June risk assessment for the Delta variant also found that coronavirus vaccines were less effective against it by comparison to the Alpha mutation.