UK Covid-19 Surge Sparks Call For Probe Into ‘Delta Plus’ Variant

Story Highlights
  • Surging cases in the UK have left the country behind the rest of Europe.
  • Britain reported 45,140 new cases on Sunday the highest daily jump since mid-July.
  • The UK also has lagged in rolling out the vaccines to adolescents amid concerns.

Following a spike in Covid-19 instances in the United Kingdom, former US Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb advocated for “urgent research” into a mutation of the Delta variation known as “Delta Plus”. “We need to find out if this delta plus is more transmissible and has partial immune evasion right away. There’s no convincing evidence that it’s significantly more transmissible, but we should attempt to characterise these and other novel variants more quickly as we have the resources”, Gottlieb added.

The K417N mutation is present in the Delta Plus strain, which was initially discovered in India in May. This has sparked alarm because the Beta variety, which is linked to an increased risk of reinfection, carries the same mutation. In late June, UK experts concluded there was no evidence that the new mutation was more dangerous. While both Delta and Delta Plus infect lung cells more efficiently than the original coronavirus strain, according to a German study published earlier this month, Delta Plus does not appear to be considerably more harmful than Delta.

Earlier on Sunday, the UK reported the largest daily increase in new cases since mid-July, when Prime Minister Boris Johnson authorised the lifting of most Covid-related restrictions in what became known as “Freedom Day.” The majority of the recent increase in cases in the UK has been among children returning to school. Vaccination of older children is frequently seen as taking longer than expected. For the previous 6 weeks, the virus has claimed over 800 lives, far more than in any major western European country. Almost 140,000 Covid-related deaths have been reported in the UK to date.

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