Guardian News and Media/ London
The total number of cases of the Covid Delta variant in the UK has risen to 75,953 to date, data has revealed, with the variant accounting for 99% of Covid cases.
According to the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), the latest R number for England is between 1.2 and 1.4, with the number of new Covid infections growing by 3% to 6% a day – in the north-west the growth is even higher at 5% to 8% a day. The group cautions that lags in data mean the figures represent the spread of Covid about two to three weeks ago.
According to Public Health England data based on whole-genome sequencing and a more rapid approach known as genotyping, 99% of Covid cases in the UK involve the Delta variant.
The Delta variant, also known as B.1.617.2, combined with relaxations in coronavirus restrictions, is believed to be behind the sharp rise in Covid cases in the UK in the past weeks – a development that led Boris Johnson to delay the planned June 21 date for full lifting of Covid restrictions in England.
The latest figures from PHE Public Health England (PHE) reveal cases of the variant have risen by 33,630 since last week, with another report from PHE supporting previous evidence that Delta is more transmissible than the Alpha variant, B.1.1.7.
The report also adds to evidence the Delta variant is somewhat more resistant to Covid vaccines, particularly after just one dose – although protection is higher against hospitalisation than symptomatic disease.
Considering the different Covid jabs together, the report suggests one dose offers 75% protection against hospital admissions for Delta while two doses provide 94% protection – although these vaccine effectiveness figures are estimates that lie within a range of possible values.
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