Delta variants begin to spread, threatening EU Covid progress

Subspecies of the deltacoronavirus that swept the UK became predominant in Portugal and emerged in Germany, France and Spain, and European health officials warned that further action was needed to delay its spread.

The first new strains to emerge in India account for only a small proportion of all cases of coronavirus in mainland Europe, but are steadily progressing, according to an FT analysis of global genomic data from the virus tracking database Gisaid. According to FT calculations, Portugal accounts for 96% of sequenced Covid-19 infections, Italy for more than 20%, and Belgium for about 16%.

Due to the small but increasing number of cases, Delta variants may prevent the EU from progressing to the lowest levels of new infections and mortality in the last two months, at least since the fall. There are concerns.

French Minister of Health Olivier Véran told reporters at the immunization center in Paris on Tuesday.

Belan said that 2% to 4% of the virus samples analyzed in France appear as delta variants. “This may still be low, but it’s similar to what happened in the UK a few weeks ago.” FT’s analysis of Gisaid’s data suggests that this number could be higher. I will.

In Portugal, a community infection of this variant has been detected in the Lisbon metropolitan area, with more than 60% of new cases of the country’s coronavirus confirmed in the past week. Non-mandatory trips to or from the city are prohibited to prevent a surge in incidents that spread to other parts of the country.

Scientists across the continent are now looking to Britain. In the UK, Covid-19 cases have tripled in the past month, with Delta variants accounting for about 98% of all new infections. There are clues as to what will happen next and what action is needed. Will be taken.

This week, the UK government imposes a one-month delay in removing the remaining coronavirus restrictions after official data show that Delta variants appear to increase the risk of hospitalization by a factor of 2.2 compared to Alpha variants. did.

“The decision the UK has made to resume life and society will serve as our laboratory in Europe,” said a Lyon virologist who advised the French government and helped coordinate the country’s variant sequence. One Bruno Lina says.

According to scientists, whether the outbreak of delta infections that hit the EU will turn into a larger outbreak depends on the number of people who have been completely vaccinated and the behavior of today’s people who have lifted many restrictions on their lives and businesses. Partially depends on.

Graphs showing signs of reduced alpha variant outbreaks and increased delta outbreaks in many states

A recent UK government survey highlighted the need to complete the vaccination program as soon as Data collected by the UK Public Health ServiceThe first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine is generally less effective against delta mutants than previous strains. Two doses increase protection against delta-induced symptomatic infections from 33% to 81%.

In the UK, about 46% of the population is fully vaccinated, but immunization rates in most countries of continental Europe range between 20% and 30%. About 26 percent of France’s population is fully vaccinated.

French authorities are currently trying to contain the outbreak in the Land region near the Spanish border. Here, 125 cases of delta mutants have been confirmed by gene sequencing, and an additional 130 cases have been suspected, accounting for about 30% of recent infections in the region. Clusters of delta variants have also been identified in the suburbs of southern Paris and art schools in Strasbourg in recent weeks.

In each case, health officials responded with the same formula: increased contact tracing and new promotions to vaccinate people in the affected areas.

“If vaccination goes smoothly and non-pharmaceutical interventions such as masks are continued indoors, the virus circulation can be suppressed this summer,” said Lina, a French virologist. “This variant replaces other variants-you need to remember-but that doesn’t mean it will lead to a new wave of epidemics.”

Immunization site in Jutland, Denmark
Denmark has identified only a few delta infections, even though the variants arrived in the country at about the same time as the United Kingdom. © Henning Bagger / EPA-EFE

Some scientists may have already spread the delta mutant further, but it has disappeared given that the genomic sequencing required to identify the mutant has not been completed in mainland Europe. I’m afraid that it may be. The United Kingdom has sequenced over 500,000 Sars-Cov-2 genomes, while Germany, France and Spain have sequenced approximately 130,000, 47,000 and 34,000, respectively.

Antoine Fraho, director of the Institute for Global Health, University of Geneva, said:

However, Denmark has sequenced a high proportion of cases and still identifies only a few delta infections, despite the arrival of variants in the country at about the same time as the United Kingdom.

According to experts, this is partly due to differences in demographics and movements, such as the number of cases imported into the country from prevalence areas such as India and the living conditions of the communities in which they were sown. I can explain.

Jeff Barrett, director of the Covid-19 Genomics Initiative at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in Cambridge, said the difference in the pace of Delta’s spread across European countries remained a “little mystery.”

Still, many experts believe that wherever the Delta variant is introduced, it will eventually become dominant. The key, they say, is to increase the proportion of people who are completely vaccinated while delaying the spread of the virus as much as possible.

“We need to keep the message very clear,” said Lina Lina. “This is not the end.”

Additional reports by Daniel Dombey, Peter Wise, Guy Chazan and Clive Cookson

Delta variants begin to spread, threatening EU Covid progress

Source link Delta variants begin to spread, threatening EU Covid progress

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