2021-06-14| COVID-19

COVID-19: Rise in UK Cases Trigger Global Concerns Over “Highly Infectious” Delta Variant

by Rajaneesh K. Gopinath
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June 13th, 2021 – Former FDA commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb says that the Delta COVID-19 variant, first detected in India (B.1.617.2), might dominate COVID-19 cases in the US.

“Right now in the United States, it’s about 10% of infections. It’s doubling every two weeks. So it’s probably going to become the dominant strain here in the United States,” Dr. Gottlieb said on the “Face the Nation” program telecasted today morning on CBS.

“That doesn’t mean that we’re going to see a sharp uptick in infections, but it does mean that this is going to take over. And I think the risk is really to the fall that this could spike a new epidemic heading into the fall,” he added.


Dominant Strain in the UK

The delta variant has rapidly spread to become the most dominant strain in the UK. In May, Professor Neil Ferguson, dubbed “Professor Lockdown,” said that the surge was obviously concerning. Prof Ferguson, an epidemiologist from Imperial College London, opined that the easing of Step 4 lockdown in the UK on June 21st was “rather in the balance.”

Recently, Public Health England (PHE) confirmed that the variant is now identified in over 90% of new cases. Disconcertingly, the strain continues to show higher transmissibility as compared to the Alpha variant (B.1.1.7) originally identified in the UK.


Different and Dangerous

According to the New York Times, Chinese doctors say that the symptoms of the delta variant are different and more dangerous than the original strain. They observe that a staggering 12 percent of patients have become severely or critically ill within three to four days after symptoms first developed. In the case of the original strain, that number was usually just 2 or 3 percent, occasionally inching up to 10.


Global Concerns

These developments have sparked global concerns putting several countries on alert. In Canada, Dr. Lawrence Loh, the medical officer of health for Peel Region in suburban Toronto, has appealed to the officials for a “cautious reopening” of Ontario to avoid a fourth wave led by the delta variant.

Meanwhile, White House Chief Medical Advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci advocated for more Americans to get vaccinated before the delta variant predominates new cases in the US. He also emphasized getting both doses of the vaccine. “Particularly if you had that first dose, make sure you get that second dose. If not, please get vaccinated,” he said in a press briefing.

Analyzing about 12,000 COVID-19 cases, a recent study by the British government had found that two doses of Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines showed an efficacy of 88% and 60%, respectively against the delta variant.

Dr. Gottlieb said people living in the southern region might be more prone to new outbreaks due to the low vaccination rates. “I think in parts of the country where you have less vaccination, particularly in parts of the South, where you have some cities where vaccination rates are low, there’s a risk that you could see outbreaks with this new variant,” he said.

Related Article: Singapore and Australia’s Prime Ministers Discuss Initiation of Air Travel Bubble

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