The Delta variant of coronavirus, or the B1.617.2 variant first identified in India, is about 40 per cent more transmissible than the Alpha or so-called Kent variant of concern, making unlocking plans set for June 21 more difficult, UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock said on Sunday.
Hancock attributed the recent rise in coronavirus infections in the country to the spread of Delta variant.
"That figure, around 40 per cent more transmissible, is the latest advice that I have. That means that it is more difficult to manage this virus with the new Delta variant, but crucially we believe that with two doses of the vaccine you get the same protection as the old variant," Hancock told Sky News.
He pointed out that a majority of those in hospital as a result of the Delta variant had not had a vaccine at all and only a small minority had taken both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, which the minister said reflects the scientific advice that one vaccine is not quite as effective against the Delta variant of concern (VOC) as against the Alpha variant, but both doses are just as effective.
The senior minister said the UK government was "absolutely open" to delaying the final lifting of England's Covid lockdown on June 21 if necessary. He insisted that June 21 was a "not before" date to end restrictions and 10 Downing Street "would look at the data".
A recent study conducted by scientists of INSACOG and the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) had also said Delta variant was behind the second wave of COVID-19 in Delhi.
Despite having a high seropositivity rate of 56 per cent, people of Delhi got little protection against the Delta variant of the coronavirus that took over the national capital in March 2021, it said.
The study stated that the B.1.617 variant (Delta) and its lineage B.1.617.2 were primarily responsible for the surge in COVID-19 cases. These had a 50 per cent higher transmissibility rate than the B.1.1.7 variant (Alpha) of the virus.
(With PTI inputs)
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