- Title: Delta variant of COVID 'biggest risk to the world' says genomics expert
- Date: 26th July 2021
- Summary: LONDON, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM (JULY 19, 2021) (REUTERS) TOWER BRIDGE VIEWED FROM LONDON BRIDGE VARIOUS OF COMMUTERS WALKING ACROSS LONDON BRIDGE PEOPLE ON LONDON BRIDGE/TRAIN PASSING LONDON, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM (JULY 14, 2021) (REUTERS) PEOPLE COMING OUT OF THE UNDERGROUND WEARING FACE MASKS LONDON, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM (JULY 23, 2021) (REUTERS) (SOUNDBITE) (English) EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR AND CHAIR OF COG-UK, SHARON PEACOCK, SAYING: "In the UK, we are having an increased number of cases at the moment, and there's no evidence that the Delta variant is changing that much. So the key thing we need to look out for, actually, is not just a new variant emerging, a brand new variant emerging, but actually, Delta changing to have increasing biological characteristics that could lead to more spread or increased immune evasion. And so what we're doing is actually looking very carefully at the genome of Delta, to ensure that it's not accumulating new mutations on top of the existing mutations that lead it to become even more transmissible or even more problematic."
- 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: LVA001ENHAJWN
- 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)
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