Will the United Kingdom again find itself in great difficulty because of the Covid-19?
Concern is growing, across the Channel, facing a Delta variant which has taken up so much space that it has become the majority.
As the Minister of Health, Matt Hancock, unveiled this Friday, the variant now represents 91% of new cases of Covid-19.
No wonder, when we know that, according to a British study published the same day, it is 60% more contagious than its predecessor Alpha, itself considered to be more transmissible than the previous strains.
Obviously, this characteristic has repercussions.
After a drastic drop, which began in January following strict containment, and a low stabilization from mid-April to mid-May, the new contaminations have started to rise sharply since May 18.
Proof that the pace is exponential, the number of new cases over seven days has climbed 63.2% from the previous week, reports the BBC.
In an interview with Sky News, Prime Minister Boris Johnson acknowledged that "the number of cases is increasing" as "the number of hospitalizations".
And to conclude: "This is clearly a very, very worrying question".
The lifting of restrictions may be postponed
In this country badly bruised by the Covid-19 and which saw its health system close to collapse last January, the concern stems in particular from the data published by the health agency according to which the Delta variant could cause twice as many risks of hospitalization.
In a document dated June 11, the Department of Health reiterates this fear but specifies, however, that the confidence index is "low" since it is preliminary data.
The severity analysis has been updated:
Findings largely the same
➡️ 2x risk of hospitalization: Hazard Ratio 2.26 (1.32-3.89) England;
HR 1.85 (1.39-2.47 Scotland
➡️ 1.5x risk of A&E attendance OR hospitalization (a broader definition of severity) HR 1.45 (1.08-1.95) pic.twitter.com/TwHvXpsgXt
- Meaghan Kall (@kallmemeg) June 11, 2021
Under these conditions, the government could decide to postpone the lifting of the last restrictions, normally scheduled for June 21 in England.
This Saturday, the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, was also much less optimistic than before about maintaining his initial schedule.
However, there is hope.
Proof of this is in Bolton, a town near Manchester which has been particularly scrutinized on the issue of the Delta variant, since clusters were identified there at the end of last April.
But, after a major screening campaign and a big boost in vaccination - with additional doses available and a lot of work to find eligible people who had not yet received an injection - the new cases and hospitalizations are on the decline, reports the BBC.
According to the British channel, in the city, only a very small part of those hospitalized had completed their vaccination cycle.
Conversely, the majority of patients are young people who have not received a vaccine.
The effect of the vaccine
Vaccination could therefore still offer a way out of this crisis in the crisis, even if it is still too early to say so. According to figures as of June 10, 61.5% of Britons have received at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine and 43.7% have completed their vaccination cycle. According to the latest data from the British Department of Health, taken up by epidemiologist Meaghan Kall, 65% of people admitted to hospital because of the Delta variant were not vaccinated and 11% were completely vaccinated. Of the 42 people who died (the figures are as of June 7), 23 were not vaccinated, seven had only received one dose and 12 had completed their vaccination cycle.
The great news is that vaccines are still working against infection & severe disease💉
📌 Of infections: 68% unvaccinated;
6% fully vaccinated
📌Of hospital admissions:
11% fully vaccinated
📌Of deaths: 55% unvaccinated;
29% fully vaccinated pic.twitter.com/mVYlzzfdXL
- Meaghan Kall (@kallmemeg) June 11, 2021
The figures also show that this new British wave is different from that of last fall, because while it is sweeping among 18-64 year olds, it is much weaker among 65-84 and 85 and over.
It is therefore quite possible that the increase in contamination does not necessarily lead to an explosion in hospitalizations, intensive care and deaths.
Read also United Kingdom: how the vaccine contains, for the moment, the progression of the Delta variant
According to journalist John Burn-Murdoch, the number of deaths compared to the number of cases could even drop by 75% compared to the previous wave.
The link between hospital admission and death could also be reduced "by a third".
On the one hand because the youngest categories, where the virus currently circulates the most, have a lower risk of developing a serious form, on the other hand because, as explained by François Maignen, pharmacovigilance specialist based in London , in a previous article, "people who have been vaccinated have little or no transmission of the virus and, in the event of infection, they have most often developed mild forms of the disease".
Next, hospital admissions.
Considering during last autumn's wave admissions initially rose at the same rate across all age groups, they're now rising fast among young adults (age 25-44) but slowly if at all among the most elderly.
- John Burn-Murdoch (@jburnmurdoch) June 11, 2021
What make Matt Hancock say that the "vaccine breaks the links between infections, hospitalizations and deaths".
Jenny Harries, director general of the British Health Security Agency, wants to be more cautious, stating that vaccination "reduces the risk of serious disease" but "does not eliminate it".