UK’s Health Secretary Matt Hancock on Sunday said that the Delta variant of the coronavirus is estimated to be 40 per cent more transmissible than the Alpha variant that caused the previous wave of infections in the United Kingdom.
The Delta variant was first detected in India and was sometimes referred to as the Indian variant, while the Alpha variant was initially detected in the UK.
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Hancock told Sky News on Sunday, “That figure, around 40 per cent more transmissible, is indeed the latest advice I have”.
People who have received two doses of a coronavirus vaccine should be equally protected against either variant, he added.
The Delta variant is now the dominant strain in the UK, according to Public Health England figures.
It was however the Alpha variant that forced Britain into lockdown in January.
Public Health England said last month that research showed double vaccination was similarly effective against both the Alpha and Delta variants. Hancock told the BBC:
The best scientific advice I have at this stage is that, after one jab, it’s not quite as effective against the new Delta variant, but after both jabs, it is.
Hancock also told the BBC on Sunday that the government would look at data for another week and then decide on whether to lift COVID-19 restrictions on 21 June.
The UK has so far given more than 27 million people two doses – more than 50 per cent of adults – while more than 40 million have had one dose.