Dominant Indian variant doubles risk of hospitalisation – as infections soar again in one week
THE Indian variant duobles the risk of hospitalisation, public health chiefs fear.
The strain, officially named "Delta", is now the UK's dominant Covid strain – with cases almost doubling in the past week.
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A total of 12,431 cases of the Indian variant have been confirmed in the UK up to June 2, up 79 per cent from the week prior (6,959).
It now represents 73 per cent of all sequenced cases.
As well as being faster spreading and able to weaken vaccines, the variant now show signs of causing mroe severe disease.
Officials have urged people to “exercise caution” in the face of the growing threat.
Dr Jenny Harries, Chief Executive, UK Health Security Agency, said: “With this variant now dominant across the UK, it remains vital that we continue to exercise caution particularly while we learn more about transmission and health impacts.
"The way to tackle variants is to use the same measures to reduce the risk of transmission of Covid-19 we have used before.
"Work from home where you can, and practise hands, face, space, fresh air at all times.
"If you are eligible and have not already done so, please come forward to be vaccinated and make sure you get your second jab. It will save lives.”
It comes as:
- Portugal was hauled off the travel green list despite the fact it had only TWELVE cases of the new "Nepal strain"
- Brits are scrambling to get home from Portugal to avoid quarantining before it goes on the amber list on Tuesday morning
- Work from home order could be set to stay beyond June 21 if Covid cases continue to surge
- BorisJohnson has received his second dose of the AstraZeneca Covid jab.
PHE have reported early evidence that suggests people with the Delta variant may be an increased risk of being admitted to hospital compared with the Kent version.
But “more data is needed to have more confidence in that finding”, PHE added.
Figures for England showed a "significantly increased risk of hospitalisation" for people with the Delta variant, of 161 per cent.
People were also 67 per cent more likely to attend A&E.
Stats for Scotland – which has seen a surge in cases driven by the Delta variant – show a similar picture.
The majority of people hospitalised with the super-infectious strain are unvaccinated – but some fully jabbed people are still at risk.
Of the 137 cases who had an overnight stay in hospial between February and May, 90 were unvaccinated while seven had received both doses.
There have been 17 deaths of people with the strain, of which three were people who had reveived one jab dose, and two who were fully vaccinated.
However, PHE's data warns that people who have had a jab are still catching the virus, making up one third of cases.
The most affected areas are still Bolton and Blackburn with Darwen.
Bolton has seen cases rise by 795 to 2,149, and Blackburn with Darwen has seen 368 new cases, bringing it to 724 in total.
There are encouraging signs that the transmission rate in Bolton has begun to fall and that the actions taken by residents and local authority teams have been successful in reducing spread.
The latest PHE data suggest that there have been 97 confirmed outbreaks in primary and secondary schools that have had at least one Delta variant case linked to them over the most recent 4-week period.
This represents around 1 in 250 schools.
It comes as a leading professor has warned the Delta variant may be up to 100 per cent more transmissible than the one from Kent.
Prof Neil Ferguson, from Imperial College London, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "The best estimate at the moment is this variant may be 60 per cent more transmissible than the Alpha variant.
"There's some uncertainty around that depending on assumption and how you analyse the data, between about 30 per cent and maybe even up to 100 per cent more transmissible."
NEW VARIANT FEARS
It comes as ministers have revealed new fears over the "Nepal variant" – a mutation of the Delta variant which could evade vaccines.
Yesterday afternoon Grant Shapps confirmed the "Nepal variant" – hours after the World Health Organisation slapped down reports of a new mutation.
The Transport Secretary said this afternoon "there's a sort of Nepal mutation of the Indian variant", which has "caused concern".
It comes as Portugal was moved onto the "amber" list for Brits travelling abroad, over fears for the mutated variant.
Holiday hopes for thousands will have been dashed by the move, which Mr Shapps also said was driven by a rise in Covid cases in the popular summer spot.
He said: "I want to be straight with people – this is a difficult decision to make but in the end we've seen two things that's caused concern.
"One is the positivity rate that has nearly doubled since the last review in Portugal.
"The other is there's a sort of Nepal mutation of the Indian variant that's been detected and we just don't know the potential for that to be a vaccine-defeating mutation and simply don't want to take the risk as we come up to June 21 and the review of the fourth stage of the unlock."
Covid variants have been given new names taken from the Greek alphabet, thanks to a new labelling system from the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Around 20 people have been found to have been infected with the mutated variant, the MailOnline reports.
Public Health England did not confirm UK numbers, but said today it has developed from the Delta variant with an element from the South African variant – which can evade vaccines.
Dr Jeff Barrett, Director of the Covid-19 Genomics Initiative at the Wellcome Sanger Institute, added: "There have been 91 sequences observed in the GISAID database of B.1.617.2 / Delta with an additional mutation: K417N.
"This mutation is present in B.1.351 / Beta, and is believed to be part of why that variant is less well neutralised by vaccines.
"Because of this possibility, and because Delta appears more transmissible than Beta, scientists are monitoring it carefully.
“This Delta+K417N has been seen in numerous countries, including the UK, Portugal, the USA, and India.
"It has also been observed once in Nepal (which does very little sequencing), and 14 times in Japan, of which 13 are samples from airport quarantine from travellers from Nepal.”
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