STOCKHOLM, June 23 (Xinhua) — The Delta variant of COVID-19 is expected to soon account for nearly all new coronavirus infections in Europe, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said on Wednesday.
In its latest threat assessment report, the ECDC said that since the Delta variant, first detected in India, is 40-60 percent more transmissible than the original strain, it is projected to cause 70 percent of new infections in the European Union (EU) and the European Economic Area (EEA) by early August. By late August, this figure could reach 90 percent.
The agency also warned that the daily number of new cases, hospitalizations and deaths, could increase to the autumn 2020 levels should non-pharmaceutical measures (such as physical distancing, hand and respiratory hygiene, use of face masks, etc.) to minimize the rate of transmission be relaxed.
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The ECDC said the vaccination campaigns must be accelerated. The second COVID-19 vaccine doses should also be administered as early as possible.
“Unfortunately, preliminary data shows that (the Delta strain) can also infect individuals who have received only one dose of the currently available vaccines,” ECDC Director Andrea Ammon said.
“It is very likely that the Delta variant will circulate extensively during the summer, particularly among younger individuals who are not targeted for vaccination. This could cause a risk for the more vulnerable individuals to be infected. They could experience severe illness and death if they are not fully vaccinated,” she said.
Nevertheless, Ammon stressed that there is still hope.
“The good news is that having received two doses of any of the currently available vaccines provides high protection against this variant and its consequences. However, about 30 percent of individuals older than 80 years and about 40 percent of individuals older than 60 years have not yet received a full vaccination course in the European Union,” said the director. Enditem