Analysis: research suggests ‘scarily fleeting’ contact could infect, and that places with high jab rates are susceptible
Sydney and some of its surrounding areas have imposed a strict two-week lockdown in an effort to curb the spread of the Delta variant. Photograph: Brook Mitchell/Getty Images
The transmission advantage of the Delta variant that is spreading at pace globally is a sign that the race between vaccination and the virus could tip in favour of the latter unless countries ramp up their immunisation campaigns and practise caution, scientists say.
The variant, first detected in India, has been identified in at least 92 countries and is considered the “fittest” variant yet of the virus that causes Covid-19, with its enhanced ability to prey on the vulnerable – particularly in places with low vaccination rates.
Research conducted in the UK, where the variant accounts for 99% of new Covid cases, suggests it is about 60% more transmissible than the Alpha variant, which previously dominated. It may also be linked to a greater risk of hospitalisation and is somewhat more resistant to vaccines, particularly after one dose.