Delta variant: Expert predicts '100,000 UK cases a day'
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The Delta variant of the coronavirus has spread across the UK like wildfire, with cases rising last week by 17 percent. Government data published on July 16 shows more than 253,000 people have been infected with this highly contagious form of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Even more worryingly, new research suggests the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is less effective at targetting the Delta variant than other vaccines approved for use in the UK.
Unlike the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, the US-developed Johnson & Johnson jab is administered on a single-dose basis.
Health experts have, therefore, suggested a booster shot of the jab may be needed to tackle the growing threat.
The Delta variant of coronavirus has already proven to be a formidable foe.
The virus is much more contagious and has been labelled by the World Health Organization (WHO) “the fastest and fittest” variant.
According to the Yale School of Medicine in the US, the virus spreads 50 percent faster than the Alpha variant and is 50 percent more contagious than the original strain.
In an environment where no one is vaccinated and no one is wearing a mask, coronavirus will likely infect 2.5 other people.
However, Dr F. Perry Wilson of Yale Medicine said: “In the same environment, Delta would spread from one person to maybe 3.5 or 4 other people.”
A new study published by researchers at the New York University Grossman School of Medicine suggests the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is proving less effective against Delta than it is against the original strain.
The study’s authors told The New York Times people might have to consider getting a booster jab.
The UK has approved four vaccines for use: AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson.
Virologist Nathaniel Landau said: “The message that we wanted to give was not that people shouldn’t get the J&J vaccine, but we hope that in the future, it will be boosted with either another dose of J&J or a boost with Pfizer or Moderna.”
The researchers collected blood samples from 17 people who had two doses of an mRNA vaccine administered and compared them to blood samples from 10 people with the single-dose Johnson & Johnson jab.
Their results suggest the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was less effective than the mRNA jabs, particularly against the Delta and Lambda variants.
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The study concluded one dose of the jab is only about 33 percent effective against the Delta variant – but 60 percent effective after a second dose.
However, this clashes with data published directly by Johnson & Johnson, which suggests the vaccine is effective against the Delta variant.
Dr Paul Stoffels, Vice Chairman of the Executive Committee and Chief Scientific Officer at Johnson & Johnson, said earlier this month: “We believe that our vaccine offers durable protection against COVID-19 and elicits neutralizing activity against the Delta variant.
“This adds to the robust body of clinical data supporting our single-shot vaccine’s ability to protect against multiple variants of concern.”
According to the company, the vaccine bolsters the immune system against Covid for up to eight months after the jab.
A representative of Johnson & Johnson told the Time the new study’s findings “do not speak to the full nature of immune protection”.
The study was pre-published on the BioRxiv server and is yet to be peer-reviewed.
According to the latest Government data published on July 21, more than 46.3 million people across the UK have already taken their first dose of the Covid vaccine.
And more than 36.4 million have had their second dose for a total of more than 82.79 million jabs.
In total, more than 5.56 million people have tested positive for the virus since the pandemic began.
Globally than 191.148 million people have been infected and more than 4.1 million have died since late 2019.
The daily UK cases reported on Wednesday showed 44,104 people have caught the virus.
Dr Jenny Harries, Chief Executive of the UK Health Security Agency, said: “The best way to keep yourself and those around you safe is to get both doses of the vaccine as soon as you are eligible.
“However, while vaccines offer excellent protection, they do not completely eliminate risk. “
With restrictions easing across the nation on Monday, Dr Harries argued it is critical people exercise caution.
People are encouraged to take free twice-weekly rapid tests.
And if you are exhibiting symptoms, it is crucial you “book a PCR test immediately and stay at home until you receive your result”.
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