The Delta variable is spreading in Europe and it can’t be stopped

French police walk down the street during the Midsummer Festival of French Music on June 21, 2021 in Paris, France.

Raphael Yaqebzadeh | Getty Images Entertainment | Getty Images

LONDON – The delta strain of the coronavirus first discovered in India has now spread around the world, leading to more waves of infections in countries like the United Kingdom.

Now there are more and more indications that the number of cases in continental Europe is also rising sharply.

The EU is certainly concerned about the spread of the highly contagious delta variant, which evidence suggests is about 60% more transmissible than the alpha variant first found in England, causing more hospitalizations and somewhat increasing the efficacy of vaccines.

A number of European countries have imposed additional restrictions on visitors from the UK, but experts believe it’s only a matter of time before they start in continental Europe – and the signs are already strong.

French Health Minister Olivier Veran said, on Tuesday, that the delta variant is now responsible for about 20% of Covid-19 cases in France, compared to last week’s estimate of 9-10% of cases.

The Robert Koch Institute, Germany’s public health authority, said this week that the delta variant accounted for about 36% of cases in the week of June 15-20, up 15% from the previous week. Lothar Wheeler, head of the RKI, also told officials that the variant already accounts for more than 50% of cases registered in Germany, Deutsche Welle reported on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Italy’s National Health Institute said on Friday that the number of cases attributed to the covid delta and kappa variants (an “interesting variant,” according to the WHO, related to the delta variant) had risen in Italy over the past month. Approximately 17% of all cases of coronavirus.

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Spain and Portugal also reported an increase in the incidence of delta variants, such as Poland, Russia, Switzerland and Turkey. In addition, the delta plus variant – the delta mutation – has been detected in parts of Europe.

Read more: Delta Covid variant has a new mutation called ‘delta plus’: here’s what you need to know

Germany and France are among the countries imposing quarantine restrictions on British travelers, and Berlin has gone a step further, calling for the European Union to take a unified approach when it comes to quarantining British travelers coming into the bloc.

Experts note that this step is probably too little, too late.

“I doubt European countries with open economies and more restrictive border controls, quarantine measures, and tracing could push Delta back for so long…especially given that there is already extensive domestic circulation,” Tom Winslers said. A biologist and biostatistician at the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium told CNBC on Tuesday.

He noted that the actual number of infections in Europe from the delta variant could be much higher than current estimates suggest.

“I estimate that in Portugal 90% of cases diagnosed now could be deltas, but with a strong geographic focus around Lisbon. Many other countries in Europe, such as Spain, Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg, Sweden and the Netherlands are not far behind. It is estimated that more Out of 50% of all cases diagnosed now are delta cases.”

COVID-19 vaccination programs could come to the rescue if countries in Europe could deploy vaccines quickly enough. A study by Public Health England in May showed that having two doses of the Covid vaccines developed by AstraZeneca-Oxford University and Pfizer-BioNTech (the most widely used vaccines in Europe) provides effective protection against the delta variant. Both vaccines were significantly less effective after just one injection.

As such, the race is now in Europe to fully vaccinate millions of people especially young people who were the last to receive the Covid vaccine. Data from England again shows that young, unvaccinated, over-50s and people who have only had one dose of the Covid vaccine are more likely to be delta-types.

Wenseleers of KU Leuven agreed that “full-speed vaccination and asking people in particularly vulnerable groups to remain vigil are now probably the most important options for the EU,” although extensive border controls and tracking and tracing could help. He added that the vaccination campaign has made progress in time, which will help prevent a re-emergence.”

Concerns have already begun in the EU about the prospects for the summer tourism season and whether the British and others will be allowed into the region, especially when some EU countries, such as Greece and Portugal, have made tourism an important part of their economies.

It is not yet known how a possible new wave of Delta-like infections could affect the broader economy and reopen the region, but economists are watching it closely.

“The delta wave is advancing,” said Holger Schmieding, chief economist at Berenberg Bank, in a note on Wednesday. “After a delay of about seven weeks in the UK, it appears that recorded infections with SARS-CoV-2 in the euro area are beginning to increase amid wide regional disparities.”

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Evaluate whether the “new wave” Berenberg. groups Expectations beyond consensus As for growth in the Eurozone and the UK at risk (GDP growth forecast this year is 4.7% in the Eurozone and 7% in the UK), Schmieding believes the outlook will not be affected to a large extent.

“Thanks to rapid advances in vaccination, we consider it unlikely that medical systems in the UK or on the mainland will again be so clearly strained that severe new restrictions on economic activity will once again be necessary to control medical risks. The risks should be closely monitored. “.

Sophie Baker

"Award-winning music trailblazer. Gamer. Lifelong alcohol enthusiast. Thinker. Passionate analyst."

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