UK health officials on Friday issued a warning of an increased risk of catching the Delta variant even if someone has had COVID-19 before and urged caution as further investigations remain ongoing.
Public Health England (PHE), which monitors all variants of concern (VOC) in the country on a weekly basis, found the Delta variant cases have risen by 33,716 since last week to a total of 286,765 and continues to account for approximately 99 per cent of coronavirus cases across the UK.
It also revealed that 897 cases out of 68,688 infections of the Delta variant recorded in an 11-week period from April to June were possible reinfections.
“The Delta risk assessment has been updated to reflect early signs of increased risk of reinfection with Delta compared to Alpha [variant previously dominant in the UK],” the PHE said.
“National surveillance analysis, adjusted for different variables including age and vaccination, shows a preliminary signal of increased risk of reinfection with Delta compared to Alpha. Further investigations are being undertaken,” it noted.
With reference to the latest hospitalisation data, 3,692 people have been hospitalised with the Delta variant, of whom 2,152 (58.3 per cent) were unvaccinated and 843 (22.8 per cent) were fully vaccinated.
“This most recent hospitalisation data shows once again just how crucial vaccination is in protecting us from severe illness and death, said Dr Jenny Harries,” Chief Executive of the UK Health Security Agency.
“Two doses of vaccine are far more effective against COVID-19 than a single dose, so please make sure that you come forward to get your second dose as soon as you are invited,” she said.
“As we emerge from restrictions and vaccine coverage continues to rise, it is important to remember that while the protection provided by vaccination is excellent, it is not total. It is still as important as ever that we continue to exercise caution,” she added.