Cases continue to rise here in the UK, despite very high vaccination levels.
The Delta variant now comprises over 90% of infections in the UK and is estimated to be 40-50% more transmissible than the previously dominant Alpha variant.
The steep rise in cases despite high vaccination levels is a cautionary tale to the US and other countries with current lulls in transmission—there are still enough susceptible people to fan the flames of new outbreaks.
🙋🏽 Is there any good news?
➡️ Cases are primarily rising in younger, as of yet unvaccinated groups (see figure). The UK has rolled out vaccines using a stricter age prioritization strategy, so under 30s were only recently eligible and under 18s have not yet been offered vaccination.
➡️ While hospitalizations and deaths are slowly ticking up after this rise in cases, the link has been considerably weakened suggesting that vaccines are working as expected. Deaths remain at low levels.
💥 Even against the new Delta variant, vaccine effectiveness against hospitalization is estimated at 94% after 2 doses and 75% after one dose.
❓What can we learn from what’s happened in the UK so far?
➡️ In the face of more transmissible variants, even quite high levels of population immunity are not sufficient to completely suppress transmission. This means COVID-19 is unlikely to get snuffed out completely anytime soon.
➡️ Population immunity helps protect those who either cannot get vaccinated yet (including kids), or older and immunosuppressed people who don’t mount as good of a response to the vaccine. We can build that wall of protection higher by getting as many people vaccinated as possible and maintaining sensible precautions to suppress transmission.
➡️ Precautions such as minding ventilation, avoiding crowds and using masks in public indoors still work: See our recent post on #StaySMART precautions and how new variants still can’t defy the laws of physics. The WHO recently advised that fully vaccinated people continue to wear masks in public settings with the rise of the Delta variant, and Israel has just re-instated an indoor mask mandate after a spike in cases there.
💥 Vaccines work. Get your vaccine, both doses.
➡️ There are two paths to immunity, and with COVID-19 continuing to circulate globally the virus will increasingly find those pockets of unvaccinated individuals. You can get your protection safely now via vaccination or take your chances with a nasty illness, Long COVID, hospitalization, or death. Not a hard call for us!!
Nerdy Girl Jenn (reporting from London)