Europe is concerned about the growth of the Delta variant of the Coronavirus. The variant is more contagious and better able to partially evade vaccine protection.
Discovered in India, it has already caused 90% of infections in the UK and, according to the European Center for Disease Control (ECDC), will be responsible for 90% of all infections in Europe by the end of August.
The rise of this variant has already prompted Portugal to slow down its de-escalation and the UK to delay the expected return to normal by one month.
On the one hand, Spain has lifted the obligation to wear a mask on the street and applauded that the United Kingdom has included the Balearic Islands in the list of Covid free zones to travel, but has asked regional governments for great caution.
The president of the European Commission herself, Ursula von der Leyen, has asked countries not to let their guard down by removing restrictions and control measures.
The new variant also worries the scientific community “It is a variant to which we must pay attention but we must not be alarmed. It is the result of two mutations, one that makes it more contagious and the other that leads it to escape vaccines ”.
“Delta is, for now, the most contagious variant that has been identified,” said WHO director Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
Furthermore, according to studies carried out by the British public health services, the effectiveness of the first dose of Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines against symptomatic disease is lower than the Delta variant: they are 33% effective, while against the Alpha variant, this percentage reaches the 50%.
With the two doses administered, however, the protection is very similar to that obtained against Alpha: the complete regimen with Pfizer’s is 96% effective against hospitalization and that with AstraZeneca at 92%.
In any case, what is clear is that, among the unvaccinated or those who have not completed the vaccination regimen, the risk of transmission and infection increases. Young people are currently the most unprotected population group because they have not yet had massive access to vaccines and, although they are not particularly vulnerable to serious infections, they can transmit the virus to older population groups who have not completed the vaccination regimen.
The ECDC has urged to keep the circulation of the virus low until the most vulnerable are fully protected. “About 30% of people over 80 and 40% of those over 60 have not yet received a full course of vaccination in the European Union. There are still too many people at risk of serious Covid infection that we need to protect as soon as possible “.
Some countries have already taken steps to protect themselves from the Delta variant and in the UK, for example, where detected cases grew by 29% in one week there were around 153,200 infections the week of June 19, according to estimates by the British Office of Statistics. UK will maintain meeting capacity limits and other social restrictions, at least until the end of July. Portugal also slowed its de-escalation and Israel re-imposed the use of masks indoors after the rebound of infections from the Delta variant. Malta, for its part, has imposed quarantine on travelers arriving from the UK.
The concern for the delta variant reached the European summit, with Germany defending itself by quarantining the British who trample the community soil. France also supports this measure. But Spain, on the other hand, openly rejects “drastic measures such as quarantines”.
In short, there is a lot of confusion among European countries but, in any case, the health authorities only agree on one thing and that is that the best way to stop the expansion of variants is to speed up vaccination, complete the immunization program for the most vulnerable population and do not relax safety measures such as face masks and nightlife.
But not everyone is doing it, unfortunately.