Delta variant: Expert predicts '100,000 UK cases a day'
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On Monday PM Boris announced his most consequential policy decision since first taking the decision to curtail freedoms in the UK. On July 19th, virtually all remaining coronavirus restrictions will come to an end, restoring life back to some sort of normality. A growing chorus of scientists are expressing concerns about the wholesale lifting of restrictions. Fears of a third wave – driven by the Delta variant – have not abated. Meanwhile, a new Israeli study has found the Pfizer Covid vaccine to be less effective at stemming the transmission of the Delta variant than previous strains.
The Delta variant, first discovered in India, is now the dominant strain in the UK.
It is also spreading rampantly in Israel, the country leading the way in terms of vaccination rates.
The key finding was the result of a preliminary study by Israel’s health ministry.
Data collected over the past month suggested the vaccine is 64 percent effective at preventing infection among those who are double jabbed, the ministry has found.
Efficacy against previous strains of the virus was estimated at 94 percent.
Crucially, though, the findings show the link between transmission and hospitalisation has been severely weakened.
The vaccine still confers 93 percent protection against serious illness and hospitalisation.
“Delta is a lot more infectious, but appears to not lead to as much serious illness and death, especially given that we now have the vaccine,” said Professor Nadav Davidovitch, who sits on the government’s expert advisory committee on COVID-19.
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Delta variant – tracking its movements
According to the latest data published by the COVID Symptom Study app, rates of change are increasing in east UK, levelling off in west UK, but cases still up across the country.
ZOE data has indicated that the rate of change of new cases in the UK has shown an increase in the east of the UK, including the North East, London and the East Midlands.
While ZOE data shows the rate of change of new cases in previous hotspots in the West Midlands and South West are levelling off.
Vaccination rates are the lowest in London according to ZOE vaccine data, where ZOE reports show 70 percent of contributors have been vaccinated but only 31 percent have received double doses.
Tim Spector OBE, lead scientist on the ZOE COVID Study app and Professor of Genetic Epidemiology at King’s College London, comments on the latest data: “While I predicted we may have reached the peak of COVID infections by now, it looks like this is only the case in the North West of England and West Midlands where the Delta variant got an early foothold.
ZOE COVID Study data indicates rates are no longer increasing in these regions, but the rate of change is now going up in the east of the country.
“Places like the East Midlands, Aberdeen, the North East and NE London are seeing the highest rates of change, and I expect them to follow what we’ve seen in the North West over the next few weeks.”
According to the latest data, cases continue to increase in holiday hotspots like Cornwall, Devon and along the South Coast in Brighton and Bournemouth.
How to respond to symptoms
According to the NHS, the main symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) are:
- A high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)
- A new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or three or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)
- A loss or change to your sense of smell or taste – this means you’ve noticed you cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal.
If you have any of the main symptoms of COVID-19, even if they’re mild, get a PCR test (test that is sent to a lab) to check if you have COVID-19 as soon as possible.
You and anyone you live with should stay at home and not have visitors until you get your test result – only leave your home to have a test.
Anyone in your childcare or support bubble should also stay at home if you have been in close contact with them since your symptoms started or during the 48 hours before they started.
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