Europe wants to stop the Covid delta variant. But experts say it may already be too late
June 30, 2021 @ 21:39 +03:00
The coronavirus delta variant first discovered in India has now spread around the world, prompting further waves of infections in countries like the U.K. Now, there are increasing signs that mainland Europe is seeing a sharp rise in cases too.
The EU is certainly worried about the spread of the highly infectious delta variant which evidence suggests is around 60% more transmissible than the alpha variant first found in England, causes more hospitalizations and slightly reduces the efficacy of vaccines. A number of European countries have introduced further restrictions on visitors from the U.K., but experts believe it’s only a matter of time before it takes off in mainland Europe — and there are strong signals it already has.
On Tuesday, French Health Minister Olivier Veran said that the delta variant now represents some 20% of Covid-19 cases in France, up from last week’s estimate of it representing 9-10% of cases. Germany’s public health body, the Robert Koch Institute, said this week that the delta variant accounted for around 36% of the cases in the week of June 15 – 20, up 15% from the week before. Lothar Wieler, president of the RKI, also told officials the variant now already represents more than 50% of registered cases in Germany, Deutsche Welle reported Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Italy’s national health institute said Friday that cases attributed to Covid variants delta and kappa (a “variant of interest,” according to the World Health Organization, that’s related to the delta variant) have surged in Italy in the past month, accounting for nearly 17% of total Covid cases.
Spain and Portugal have also reported a rise in delta variant cases as have Poland, Russia, Switzerland and Turkey. In addition, the delta plus variant — a mutation of the delta mutation — has been detected in pockets of Europe too. Germany and France are among the countries that have imposed quarantine restrictions on British travelers and Berlin has gone one step further, calling on the EU to take a unified approach when it comes to requiring British travelers who come to the bloc to quarantine.
Europe wants to stop the Covid delta variant. But experts say it may already be too late, CNBC, Jun 30