The delta variant, first identified in India, has become dominant in Europe, the European section of the WHO (World Health Organization) and ECDC (European Center for Disease Control) announced on Friday (23). ).
The mutant, whose contagion capacity is double that of Sars-Cov-2, “is spreading rapidly across the continent and has already reached all countries,” according to the entities.
According to health surveillance in 19 European countries with complete genetic sequencing data, from June 28 to July 11 of this year, the delta variant corresponded to 68.3% of the samples (mean value), which is triple the proportion of alpha (22.3%), previously dominant. .
Based on current trends, the delta variant will become “globally dominant over the next few months and will continue to spread unless a new, more competitive virus emerges,” the entities said.
“We are far from the end of the pandemic. Millions of people are still not vaccinated and risk ending up in hospital, ”said WHO regional director Hans Kluge, calling for new measures to prevent contagion and vaccination campaigns.
The concern of health authorities has increased in recent weeks, due to the summer holidays, which have caused a sharp increase in national and international travel.
“Traveling and meeting in groups increases the risk of contracting and transmitting Covid-19,” the WHO and ECDC said.
Andrea Ammon, director of ECDC, said basic measures such as physical distancing, hand washing, avoiding crowded spaces and wearing a mask should be prioritized as they prevent the spread of the disease without require containment or other restrictions.
The number of new cases of Covid-19 has been increasing in Europe for several weeks in all age groups, according to the WHO and the ECDC, but “more rapidly in people aged 15 to 24”. Among the youngest, notifications quintupled last month.
The delta variant has spiked contamination even in countries where full vaccinations are already reaching the majority of the population, such as the UK, where around 57% of people have already taken all necessary doses.
WHO recommends countries expand access to free trials, expand sequencing, encourage contact quarantine and isolation of confirmed cases, strengthen contact tracing to break chains of transmission and to vaccinate the most vulnerable.