The SARS-CoV-2 Delta variant, that was first reported on India, doubles the risk of hospitalisation compared to people infected with the Alpha variant, a new study published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases journal has confirmed.
Researchers with Public Health England examined more than 40,000 COVID-19 cases that occurred between March and May, when the delta variant began its surge in Britain, to compare hospitalisation rates. The study was based on whole genome sequencing of the cases— the surest way to confirm which variant had caused the infection.
The results were similar to preliminary findings from a Scottish study that also suggested delta triggered more hospitalisations. The Delta variant was first reported in India in December 2020 and early studies found it to be up to 50 per cent more transmissible than the Alpha variant, which was first identified in England in September last year.
However, less than two per cent of the people assessed in the study were fully vaccinated. After people were assessed for the study, Delta has surged and now accounts for over 98 per cent of new COVID-19 cases in Britain, the authors said.
The authors urged people to get fully vaccinated as studies have revealed full vaccination prevents infection with symptoms and hospitalisation, for both Alpha and Delta variants. “We already know that vaccination offers excellent protection against Delta. It is vital that those who have not received two doses of vaccine do so as soon as possible,” said Gavin Dabrera, a lead author and consultant epidemiologist at the National Infection Service, Public Health England.