The Delta variant, identified for the first time in India, could account for 90 percent of new Covid cases in the European Union in the coming months, the bloc’s disease control agency said Wednesday.
“It is very possible that the Delta variant will circulate extensively throughout the summer, particularly among younger people that are not targeted for vaccination,” Andrea Ammon, director of the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), said in a statement.
“The Delta variant is more transmissible than other circulating variants and we estimate that by the end of August it will represent 90 percent” of new cases in the EU, she added.
The ECDC estimates that the Delta variant (B.1.617.2), is 40 to 60 percent more contagious than the Alpha variant (B.1.1.7), first discovered in the UK, which is currently the predominant variant of the novel coronavirus circulating in the EU.
The agency said that “70 percent of new SARS-CoV-2 infections are projected to be because of this variant in the EU/EEA by early August and 90 percent of infections by the end of August”.
To date, about 30 percent of the over-80s and some 40 percent of the over-60s in the EU are still not completely vaccinated, according to the ECDC.
“At this stage it becomes essential that the second vaccination portion is administered within the base authorized interval from the first portion, to speed up the rate at which vulnerable people become protected,” Ammon said.
The ECDC is also encouraging countries to be cautious about relaxing curbs aimed at limiting the spread.
“Any relaxation over the summer months of the stringency of non-pharmaceutical measures that were in place in the EU/EEA toward the beginning of June could lead to a fast and significant increase in day by day cases in all age groups,” the agency said.
This increase could thusly lead to an ascent in “hospitalisations, and deaths, potentially reaching similar levels of the autumn of 2020 if no additional measure are taken,” it added.