The Delta variant, which was first reported in India back in December 2020, has been found to be up to 50 percent more transmissible than the variant of COVID-19 that had previously gained dominance worldwide, known as the Alpha variant, first identified in Kent, UK.
Scientists claimed this is more proof that the same traits which make the variant spread faster also increase levels of the virus in those it infects, which results in them becoming more severely ill.
The authors of the study, led by Public Health England and Cambridge University, said their results should be used by hospitals to plan particularly in areas where the Delta variant is on the rise.
Researchers analysed healthcare data from 43,338 positive COVID-19 cases in England between 29 March and 23 May 2021, including information on vaccination status, emergency care attendance, hospital admission, and other demographic characteristics.
In all cases included in the study, samples of the virus taken from patients underwent whole genome sequencing to confirm which variant had caused the infection.
High blood pressure diet: The fruit that can reduce your BP reading [INFORMER]
The ‘top five’ symptoms of Covid in fully vaccinated – professor [INSIGHT]
Vitamin B12 deficiency: How you wake up in the morning can be a sign [EXPLAINER]
During the study a total of 34,656 cases (80 percent) of the Alpha and 8,682 cases (20 percent) of the Delta variant were seen.
While the proportion of Delta cases in the study were only 20 percent, scientists found the variant grew exponentially to account for around two thirds of new Covid cases in the week starting 17 May 2021 to a staggering 65 percent indicating it had overtaken the Alpha in becoming the dominant variant in the UK.
After researchers accounted factors known to affect severity from COVID-19 including age, ethnicity and vaccination status, it was found the risk of being admitted to hospital was more than doubled with the Delta variant with a 2.26-fold increase in risk.
Dr Anne Presanis, a senior statistician at Cambridge university said: “Our analysis highlights that in the absence of vaccination, any Delta outbreaks will impose a greater burden on healthcare than an Alpha epidemic.
She continued: “Getting fully vaccinated is crucial for reducing an individual’s risk of symptomatic infection with Delta in the first place and, importantly, of reducing a Delta patient’s risk of severe illness and hospital admission.”
Dr Zania Stamataki, a viral immunologist at Birmingham University added: “Taken together with previous studies showing that Delta is 50 percent more infectious than Alpha, evidence mounts that we are dealing with a very dangerous variant.”
Lead author of the study, Gavin Dabrera, who is also a consultant epidemiologist at UK’s National Infection Service, said the study confirmed previous findings that “people infected with Delta are significantly more likely to require hospitalization than those with Alpha.”
Nearly three-quarters of COVID-19 cases in the study were in people who were unvaccinated, with 1.8 percent coming in those who had received both vaccines.
The authors said it is not possible to draw conclusions about risk amongst those who have been vaccinated and go on to develop infections, and studies have shown a link between vaccination and prevention of serious illness from coronavirus.
Among the vaccinated, the vast majority of whom had only had one dose, those infected with the Delta variant may have had almost twice the risk of hospitalisation compared with those who had the Alpha variant.
However, this figure is uncertain because there were too few vaccinated patients to provide a precise estimate.
Credit: Source link