The European Center for Disease Prevention and Control says that “it is very important to make progress with the deployment of vaccines at a very high rate” to stop the spread of the highly contagious variant.
In late August, the Delta variant highly contagious of the new coronavirus is expected to account for 90 percent of new COVID-19 cases in the European Union, according to the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).
The health agency’s warning on Wednesday echoed a similar statement from the World Health Organization last week, which said the variant first identified in India was becoming dominant globally.
The ECDC estimates that the Delta variant (B.1.617.2) is 40 to 60 per cent more contagious than the Alpha variant (B.1.1.7), first discovered in the UK, which is currently the predominant variant. of the new coronavirus. circulating on the block.
Due to its increased transmissibility, Delta is a cause for concern for many governments across Europe, even as most countries are moving to ease restrictions as a result of the global drop in new COVID-19 cases.
“The Delta variant is very likely to circulate extensively during the summer, especially among younger individuals who are not vaccinated,” the ECDC said.
“This could pose a risk to the most vulnerable people who become infected and suffer serious illness and death if they are not fully vaccinated.”
The center said it was “very important to make progress with the deployment of the vaccine at a very high rate” in order to stop the spread of the variant and mitigate its impact on health. To date, around 30 per cent of those over 80 and 40 per cent of those over 60 in the EU are not yet fully vaccinated, according to ECDC data.
Effective vaccines against the variant: new study
With most EU members not yet completely inoculated a third of their populations, the ECDC also urged countries to be cautious in alleviating curbs aimed at limiting the spread of the virus.
“Any relaxation during the summer months of the rigor of established non-pharmaceutical measures … in early June could lead to a rapid and significant increase in daily cases in all age groups,” the agency said.
This increase, in turn, could lead to an increase in “hospitalizations and deaths, which could reach the same levels as in the fall of 2020 if no additional action is taken,” he added.
But the ECDC said two doses of an approved COVID-19 vaccine offered “high protection” against the variant and its consequences.
A new study by researchers at Oxford University, published in the journal Cell, said COVID-19 vaccines manufactured by AstraZeneca and Pfizer are still widely effective against the Delta variant.
Scientists investigated the ability of antibodies in the blood of people, vaccinated with two-shot regimens, to neutralize the most contagious variant.
“There is no evidence of a widespread leak suggesting that the current generation of vaccines will provide protection against the B.1.617 lineage,” the document said.
Last week, a Public Health England (PHE) analysis also showed that vaccines made by Pfizer and AstraZeneca provided more than 90% protection against hospitalization of the Delta variant.
Oxford researchers also analyzed the likelihood of reinfection in people who had previously had COVID-19.
Observing the ability of antibodies in their blood samples to neutralize variants, the risk of reinfection with the Delta variant appeared particularly high in individuals previously infected with the Beta and Gamma lineages that were first identified in South Africa and Brazil, respectively.
In contrast, previous infection with the Alpha variant conferred “reasonable” cross-protection against all worrisome variants, being given as a model that next-generation vaccines could be modeled.
“[Alpha] could be a candidate for new vaccine variants to provide the broadest protection, ”the researchers said.