How much does the delta variant hold us in its grip? “Depends on vaccinations”

Much of how the corona crisis will develop in Europe over the coming months depends on how the highly contagious delta variant, formerly the Indian variant, will spread. Where one country is now relaxing, the other is reinforcing measures.

Due to the rapidly increasing share of delta infections, Ireland and Great Britain postpone a number of easing. In Portugal, where the variant predominantly occurs in and around Lisbon, more stringent measures were introduced last week. To combat infection, Germany is now refuting non-German travelers from Portugal. In fact, Russia is going so far to compel vaccination.

Other countries, including the Netherlands, do not take any additional measures to stop the delta variant. RIVMs forecasts suggest that the number of hospital admissions, even if the delta variant in the Netherlands prevails, remains low this summer.

This variant is certainly more contagious, but we also see that the vaccines work well against getting sick, says Harald Wychgel of RIVM. In England, too, the situation is very different than a few months ago when the hospitals were overcrowded.

The rates in the map are based on the most recent data from the countries:

Well infected, not sick

A clear example of this is Israel. Here again, the delta variant is emerging and the number of infections is rapidly increasing. Mouth masks are required again in indoor areas and foreign tourists are not welcome for the time being. Yet only 21 corona patients are in hospital across the country.

According to the Israeli government, this is due to the high rate of vaccination: 85% of adults are fully vaccinated. The explanation here is that the vaccinees get infected, but the vaccine helps prevent symptoms, says correspondent Ties Brock.

It also explains why in low-vaccination regions such as Asia, many more people end up in hospital due to the delta variant.

In Indonesia, less than 10 percent of the population had at least one shot, and hospitals are unable to handle the patient flow:

Not only the rate of vaccination but also the number of vaccine doses affects how sick people get from the delta variant. According to British research, a single dose of Pfizer/Biontech protects 36 percent against disease symptoms, with two doses that is 88 percent. At AstraZeneca, thats 30 and 67 percent respectively.

This may explain why the number of infections in Britain is high despite the high rate of vaccination. UK healthcare used AstraZeneca more than EU countries. In addition, the British strategy aimed at first giving as many people as possible a first shot. About half of the 66 million British have not had a second shot.

New wave started in schools

In Israel, the UK and the Netherlands, there is concern that the virus spreads to regions with relatively few vaccinated people. Correspondent Brock: Remarkably, the new wave of infections began in Israel in schools, in the north of the country. The vast majority of children are not vaccinated, so the government is now calling for children aged 12 and over to vaccinate themselves.

Now we have the seasonal effect, says Wychgel of RIVM, but we dont want to see the same thing as last year after summer. That is why we are also advocating the vaccination of children and maintaining basic measures.