The Delta variant of the coronavirus is estimated to be 40 percent more transmissible than the Alpha variant that caused the previous wave of infections in the United Kingdom, Britain’s health minister has said.
People who have received two doses of a coronavirus vaccine should be equally protected against either variant, he added.
“That figure, around 40 percent more transmissible, is indeed the latest advice I have,” Health Secretary Matt Hancock told Sky News yesterday.
The Delta variant, which was first detected in India, is now the dominant strain in the UK, according to Public Health England figures.
It was the Alpha variant, which was initially detected in the UK, that forced Britain into lockdown in January.
Hancock said the 40 percent figure came from the government body of scientific advisers, SAGE.
Concerns are mounting over whether the emergence of the Delta variant threatens the government’s provisional June 21 deadline for lifting virus restrictions.
Hancock acknowledged that the Delta variant “does make the calculation more difficult for June 21”.
“We’ll look at the data for another week and then make a judgement,” he told the BBC on Sunday, stressing that the government was “absolutely open” to delaying the lifting of restrictions.