Delta variant a concern


PETALING JAYA: The Delta variant is fast becoming dominant in many countries, signalling an urgent need to step up vaccination rates.In the United Kingdom, plans to lift restrictions were delayed by a month as Covid-19 infection rates saw a surge with the emergence of the Delta variant.

The UK saw early success with its vaccination exercise, with 5.4% of Covid-19 cases leading to hospital admissions in early June, compared with 10% at the start of the year.

The number of deaths had also plummeted following the vaccine rollout.

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However, the Delta variant is threatening to undermine such efforts as figures show that infection rates have risen sharply in the past month.

On June 30, the number of new infections was recorded at 26, 068, whereas on June 1, this number was logged at 5, 243.

According to the Gisaid virus tracking database, the Delta variant accounted for 93.9% of sequenced Covid-19 cases in the country in the past four weeks.

Meanwhile, the number of cases linked to the Delta variant is increasing rapidly in other countries in Europe as well.

In Portugal, the Delta variant has become the dominant one, accounting for about 70% of sequenced cases in Lisbon in June – an increase from about 10% in May.

The virus variant is also appearing in clusters in Germany, France, and Spain.

In India, where the variant was first identified, at least 70.7% of sequenced cases in the past four weeks were found to be the Delta variant.

As India continues to grapple with new infection rates, its Health Ministry has even declared that a sublineage of the Delta variant – which they dubbed Delta Plus – is a variant of concern.

The ministry said its findings suggested the Delta Plus variant was more transmissible and it advised states to increase testing.

Closer to home, the variant has also swept Singapore, with about 500 Delta variant cases reported as of the end of May.

However, as of July 1, the Delta Plus variant has yet to be detected there.

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