Delta Covid-19 Variant Becoming Globally Dominant, Says WHO Chief Scientist

People wearing face masks walk in downtown Lisbon

People wearing face masks walk in downtown Lisbon

The Delta variant first identified in India now accounts for nearly all of Britain's coronavirus cases, Public Health England (PHE) said Friday.

The vaccines are believed to be highly effective against preventing serious illness from the variant.

The PHE data shows that 75,953 confirmed and probable cases of the Covid-19 Delta variant have now been found in the United Kingdom - up by 33,630, or 79%, on the previous week.

Last week, the Delta variant made up 90% of COVID cases across the UK.

It means the total number of fatalities recorded by the Department of Health remains at 2,155.

Dr Jenny Harries, chief executive of the UK Health Security Agency, said the increase across the UK is being driven by younger age groups, many of whom have now been invited for a vaccination as the jab rollout extends to anyone aged 18 and over.

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The Delta variant is thought to be 65 percent more transmissible in households than the Alpha variant, which was previously dominant in Britain's cases. It is encouraging to see that hospitalisations and deaths are not rising at the same rate but we will continue to monitor it closely.

"So we're pressing ahead to try to make sure we have those remaining staff members offered the vaccine, taking up the vaccine, but if you can do it voluntarily then I think that is a much stronger basis from which to go on persuading people to do the right thing".

The findings come days after UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a month-long delay to an end to lockdown restrictions, citing the rising number of cases of the Delta variant first identified in India.

"While we know that people can catch viruses a few times, this data now suggests that the rate of COVID-19 reinfection is low", said Dr Susan Hopkins, Strategic Director for COVID-19 at PHE.

The PHE results follow an Imperial College London led Real-time Assessment of Community Transmission (REACT-1) study, based on over 100,000 home swab tests, which reported on Thursday that the number of people infected with the coronavirus is doubling every 11 days.

A total of 1,132,546 individuals have received one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, while 790,071 have received two.

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