- Title: Delta variant of COVID 'biggest risk to the world' says genomics expert
- Date: 26th July 2021
- Summary: LONDON, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM (JULY 23, 2021) (REUTERS) (SOUNDBITE) (English) EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR AND CHAIR OF COG-UK, SHARON PEACOCK, SAYING: "I think it can go in two different directions. The first is that a new variant could emerge, that's better and faster than Delta. So, it's just kind of a new variant of SARS-CoV-2 That's one possibility. The second possibility is that Delta could change itself - so it acquires one on new mutations, which then kind of increase its immune evasion properties, for example, and that's what we have to look out for, and that's why genome sequencing is so critically important at the moment, to monitor what Delta is doing. And it's difficult to predict which of those versions of events might occur."
- Embargoed: 9th August 2021 11:01
- Keywords: COVID-19 Delta Delta variant coronavirus mutation vaccines variants
- Location: LONDON, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM / BRAINE-LE-COMTE, BELGIUM / TEL AVIV, ISRAEL
- City: LONDON, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM / BRAINE-LE-COMTE, BELGIUM / TEL AVIV, ISRAEL
- Country: United Kingdom
- Topics: Europe,Health/Medicine
- Reuters ID: LVA005ENHAJWN
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text:The Delta variant is the fastest, fittest and most formidable version of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 the world has encountered, the head of Britain's coronavirus genome sequencing effort told Reuters, adding she was on alert for new mutations of the variant that is sweeping the world.
Britain has increased its efforts to share its genomic sequencing expertise globally through a New Variant Assessment Platform Programme.
"The biggest risk to the world at the moment is simply Delta," said microbiologist Sharon Peacock, who runs the genome sequencing programme, adding her "biggest worry" was the spread of the variant in countries that don't have vaccination programmes underway.
The major worry about the Delta variant, first identified in India, is not that it makes people sicker, but that it spreads far more easily from person to person, increasing infections and hospitalisations among the unvaccinated.
Delta has also been shown to reduce the effectiveness of the first dose of COVID-19 vaccines, though two shots still provide high protection from severe disease.
Peacock said that in addition to a new variant emerging, the Delta variant may also mutate to make it even more troublesome.
Until there is more data on Delta variant transmission, disease experts say that masks, social distancing and other measures set aside in countries with broad vaccination campaigns may again be needed.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has ended England's coronavirus lockdown, saying Britain must learn to live with the virus, and that the summer months were the best opportunity for restrictions to end given a quick vaccine rollout.
He has urged caution with the reopening, however, and Peacock said that the process of returning to normal would be slow, due to uneven vaccine rollouts globally.
Public Health England said on Friday (July 23) that out of a total of 3,692 people hospitalised in Britain with the Delta variant, 58.3% were unvaccinated and 22.8% were fully vaccinated.
In Singapore, where Delta is the most common variant, government officials reported on Friday that three-quarters of its coronavirus cases occurred among vaccinated individuals, though none were severely ill.
Israeli health officials have said 60% of current hospitalised COVID cases are in vaccinated people. Most of them are age 60 or older and often have underlying health problems.
In the United States, which has experienced more COVID-19 cases and deaths than any other country, the Delta variant represents about 83% of new infections. So far, unvaccinated people represent nearly 97% of severe cases.
(Production: Ben Dangerfield, Lucy Marks)
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
- Copyright Notice: (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2021. Open For Restrictions - http://about.reuters.com/fulllegal.asp
- Usage Terms/Restrictions: None