London- The levels of coronavirus in someone infected by the Delta variant have been observed as being the same regardless of COVID-19 vaccination status, a new study said London on Friday.
Public Health England (PHE), the government body which reports on COVID-19 variants on a weekly basis, said the findings are still in their early stages but could have implications on levels of infectiousness of the variant.
PHE also confirmed that the Delta variant, first identified in India, remains "overwhelmingly dominant" across the UK, accounting for approximately 99 per cent of cases.
The Technical Briefing also includes some initial findings which indicate that levels of virus in those who become infected with Delta but have already been vaccinated may be similar to levels found in unvaccinated people, the PHE report said.
This may have implications for people's infectiousness, whether they have been vaccinated or not. However, this is early exploratory analysis and further targeted studies are needed to confirm whether this is the case, it said.
Meanwhile, in its hospitalisation update for the Technical Briefing, it said that 1,467 people were hospitalised with cases of the Delta variant, confirmed by sequencing or genotyping in recent days. Of these, 808 (55.1 per cent) were unvaccinated, while 512 (34.9 per cent) had received both doses of the vaccine.
The latest hospitalisation figures show once again how important it is that we all come forward to receive both doses of the vaccine as soon as we are able to do so. Vaccination is the best tool we have in keeping ourselves and our loved ones safe from the serious disease risk COVID-19 can pose, said Dr Jenny Harries, Chief Executive of the UK Health Security Agency.
However, we must also remember that the vaccines do not eliminate all risk: it is still possible to become unwell with COVID-19 and infect others. It is still vital that we exercise caution, particularly while cases are high, she said.
PHE pointed out that as more of the UK's population gets vaccinated, the relative percentage of vaccinated people in hospital would reflect that average.
In its update of the B.1.621 variant, which it had designated a variant under investigation (VUI) in its last update, PHE confirmed 37 cases in England and said preliminary laboratory evidence suggests that vaccination and previous infection may be less effective at preventing infection from this variant named VUI-21JUL-01.
However, this data is very limited and more research is required. There is no evidence to suggest that VUI-21JUL-01 is more transmissible than the dominant Delta variant, the public health organisation said.
The latest update comes as the UK registered its first official fall in coronavirus infection rates since the end of lockdown last month, as the Office for National Statistics (ONS) survey found that an estimated one in 75 had the deadly virus, down from one in 65 the week before.
England's R number or the rate of infection has also shown a fall to between 0.8 and 1.1, down from between 1.1 and 1.4. The drop in these figures would indicate that the pandemic could be shrinking in England.
Cases are also falling in Scotland and Wales. Northern Ireland, where the Delta variant arrived later, is now the only part of the UK seeing rises.
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