According to Britain’s health minister, the Delta variant of the coronavirus is 40 percent more transmissible than the Alpha variant that caused the last wave of outbreaks in the United Kingdom. He went on to say that those who had two doses of the vaccination should be similarly protected against either variation.
“That figure, around 40 percent more transmissible, is indeed the latest advice I have,” Health Secretary Matt Hancock told Sky News.
According to Public Health England data, the Delta variant, often known as the Indian variant, is currently the most common strain in the UK.
The Alpha variant, formerly known as the Kent variant, was the one that put the UK under lockdown in January. SAGE, a government council of scientific experts, provided Hancock with the 40% number.
Concerns are growing over whether the Delta variant’s development would jeopardize the government’s June 21st timeline for removing virus restrictions. The Delta variant “does make the calculation more difficult for June 21,” Hancock said.
“We’ll look at the data for another week and then make a judgement,” he told the BBC on Sunday, stressing that the government was “absolutely open” to delaying the lifting of restrictions.
Those who have received two doses of the vaccination should be protected against the Delta version, according to the ministry. According to research published last month by Public Health England, double vaccination was equally effective against both the Kent and Delta strains.
“The best scientific advice I have at this stage is that, after one jab, it’s not quite as effective against the new Delta variant, but after both jabs, it is,” Hancock told the BBC.
He said that hospitalizations had been “broadly flat” thus far, with only a few people being admitted after receiving both vaccination doses. More over 27 million individuals in the UK have received two doses, accounting for more than half of all adults, whereas more than 40 million have received one dosage.
Hancock said the government was considering clinical advice on whether to expand the vaccine campaign to children above the age of 12, who are thought to be a main source of the virus’s transmission. This, however, would not be required, he noted.