Delta will account for 90% of all SARS-CoV-2 variants by the end of August
The Delta variant at the end of August will account for 90% of all SARS-CoV-2 varieties in the European Union. The evidence shows that it is 40% to 60% more infectious than the original coronavirus variant. In addition, it may be associated with a higher risk of hospitalization, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) reported. It recommends vaccinating as many people as possible, distancing and wearing masks.
The European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) estimates that the Delta variant will account for 90% of all SARS-CoV-2 viruses circulating in the EU by the end of August. This forces countries to accelerate vaccination programs, including second doses. where recommended, and to fill resilience gaps and opportunities for further variants to emerge as soon as possible,.
According to EMA, the Delta is a worrying variant that is spreading rapidly in Europe and could seriously hamper pandemic containment efforts.
Evidence suggests that it is 40% to 60% more contagious than the earlier Alpha variant, which was the first major variant of concern in the EU. Additionally, the Delta variant may be associated with a higher risk of hospitalization, emphasizes the EMA.
Preliminary evidence shows that both two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, Comirnaty Spikevax (formerly Vaccine Moderna) or Vaxzevria are needed to provide adequate protection against the delta variant.
To respond to needs and to increase vaccination coverage, EMA and the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) indicate that countries can adjust their strategies, e.g. on dose interval one to two doses, based on the epidemiological situation and the presence of coronavirus variants and changing evidence of vaccine efficacy against variants.
The EMA notes that some countries may be offered a second dose of an mRNA vaccine, such as Comirnaty or Spikevax, after the first dose of the adenoviral vector vaccine, Vaxzevria. It emphasizes that it cannot make any definitive recommendations regarding the use of the different COVID-19 vaccines for the two doses. Nevertheless, preliminary results from studies in Spain, Germany and the UK suggest a satisfactory immune response and no safety concerns.
According to the EMA, it is too early to confirm if and when a booster dose for COVID-19 vaccines will be needed as there is not yet enough data from the vaccination campaign and ongoing research to understand how long vaccine protection will last, also taking into account note the spread of variants.
However, when booster doses are required, EMA and ECDC are already working with each other and with the National Technical Advisory Groups on Immunization (NITAG), which are national experts to advise on ECDC-coordinated vaccination programs, it also said.
EMA said it is also working with vaccine makers to coordinate the submission of this data. This should ensure that regulatory steps are taken as soon as possible to allow a booster dose to be administered, if deemed necessary.
Other measures, such as wearing masks and social distancing, will have to be kept at a level sufficient to stop the Delta variant from being transmitted to the community until more populations are fully vaccinated, to avoid recurrence of cases with a possible increase in hospitalizations and deaths.
Source: EMA and ISBnews