The Delta variant of COVID-19 is the fastest, fittest, and most formidable version of COVID-19, and it is upending the assumptions about the disease even as nations loosen restrictions and open their economies, according to virologists and epidemiologists.
As per the leading COVID-19 experts, vaccine protection is standing strong against severe infections and hospitalisations caused by any version of the coronavirus, and the unvaccinated are the ones most at risk.
The major worry revolving around the Delta variant is not that it makes people sicker, but that it is capable of infecting fully vaccinated people at a greater rate than previous versions, and concerns have been raised that they may even spread the virus, shows evidence.
“The biggest risk to the world at the moment is simply Delta,” said microbiologist Sharon Peacock, who runs Britain's efforts to sequence the genomes of coronavirus variants, calling the variant the “fittest and fastest variant yet.”
Till the time more data on Delta variant transmission is gained, disease experts have directed that masks, social distancing, and other measures set aside in countries with broad vaccination campaigns may again be needed.
Earlier, Public Health England said that out of 3,692 people hospitalised in Britain with the Delta variant, a total of 58.3% were unvaccinated and 22.8% were fully vaccinated.
Health officials of Israel have said that 60% of the current hospitalised COVID cases are unvaccinated people.
According to the Israeli government data, the Pfizer Inc/BioNTech vaccine, one of the most effective against COVID-19 so far, appeared only 41% effective at halting symptomatic infections in Israel over the past month as the Delta variant spread. Israeli experts have said that this information requires more analysis before concluding.
In the United States, the Delta variant represents about 83% of new infections. So far, unvaccinated people represent nearly 97% of severe cases.
A study in China reported that people infected with the Delta variant carry 1,000 times more viruses in their noses compared with the ancestral Wuhan strain first identified in that Chinese city in 2019.
It was noted by the virologist of the La Jolla Institute for Immunology in San Diego, Shane Crotty that Delta is 50% more infectious than the Alpha variant first detected in the UK.
“It's out-competing all other viruses because it just spreads so much more efficiently,” Crotty said.
Dr. Monica Gandhi, an infectious diseases doctor at the University of California, San Francisco, said, “People are so disappointed right now that they're not 100% protected from mild breakthroughs” - getting infected despite having been vaccinated.
But, Dr Monica added that the fact that nearly all Americans hospitalised with COVID-19 right now are unvaccinated “is pretty astounding effectiveness.”