Indian variant has 46% more chance of reinfection than Kent strain, warns PHE

People who have previously defeated Covid are now more likely to be reinfected by the Indian variant, an official report shows.

Public Health England said the risk was 46 percent higher with the Delta variant compared to the previously dominant Kent ‘Alpha’ variant.

The finding was based on real-world analysis of the third wave in England and looked at about 80,000 Delta cases.

But even with the increased risk of the mutant strain, the number of Britons reinfected still remains low.

Of the Delta cases of PHE analyzed in the past three months, only 1.2 percent were identified as possible reinfection.

The results follow a lab study earlier this month that showed the variant was better at evading antibodies from previous infections than previous strains.

PHE said the reinfection risk was incredibly low in people who had recovered from Covid in the past six months.

There were more potential reinfections at the height of the second wave, which may be due to the vaccine roll-out not yet underway and the Kent variant being much more transmissible than the earlier version of the virus. But PHE says the risk is even greater with the Indian variety seeded in the UK in April

The agency looked at the PCR test results of a group of people, both vaccinated and unvaccinated, who had tested positive for Covid at least 90 days earlier.

There were 83,197 people who tested positive in the 11-week period of the analysis, 980 of whom were possible reinfections.

When comparing the results with the second wave, it said the risk of being reinfected with Delta was 46 percent higher than with Alpha. The analysis adjusted for several variables, including age and vaccination.

PHE spot ANOTHER variant

Health leaders have seen another strain of Covid spreading in Britain, with 31 mutated strains now on the UK watch list.

Sixteen cases of the B.1.621 version of the virus — believed to have originated in Colombia — have already been discovered.

Public Health England insists there is no evidence it is more deadly than Delta, which accounts for 99 per cent of all cases in the UK.

And it says there is no evidence that the strain makes the vaccines currently being used less effective.

The government-run agency also claims that there is no sign of B.1.621 spreading in the community.

It does admit that the variant contains a number of ‘worrying mutations’.

Tests show it carries the same N501Y mutation that researchers say made the Alpha variant so transmissible.

Some samples also contain E484K, which is also found in the beta strain that experts say can partially bypass vaccines.

The coronavirus, called SARS-CoV-2, constantly mutates as a result of genetic errors as it multiplies. Most mutations are harmless.

But the ones that allow it to spread faster or survive longer in the human body are the ones that are likely to stick around.

They will be passed on to future generations if they give the virus a survival advantage, and the ability to spread faster and continue to spread for longer will help versions of the virus with that mutation become dominant by overtaking slower, weaker versions.

The World Health Organization says the first documented sample of B.1,621 was in Colombia in January.

Since then, another 25 countries have registered cases, including the US, Spain, Mexico and the Netherlands.

In addition to the 16 cases already reported in England, six more suspected samples are currently being analysed.

Almost all samples (10) were found in London. And most were in their twenties (six).

Two cases were seen in people who had been fully vaccinated. No one has died yet.

Despite PHE saying there was no evidence of community transmission, only three of the cases had a travel history.

Health chiefs said additional contact tracing has already been conducted. If necessary, targeted tests will be used to limit the spread.

Further lab tests are now underway to help officials understand more about the tribe.

Experts aren’t sure how long immunity from previous infection by Covid lasts because the virus is so new.

Immunity is believed to last for at least six months for the vast majority of people.

It came as new numbers showed how many people hospitalized with the Delta variant have had one or both doses of a Covid-19 vaccine.

In the most recent week, from June 21 to July 19, some 1,788 people were hospitalized after testing positive for Delta.

Of these, 970 (54 percent) had not been vaccinated, while 530 (30 percent) had received both doses.

A total of 3,692 people with the Delta variant have been hospitalized so far, of whom 2,152 (58 percent) were unvaccinated and 843 (23 percent) fully vaccinated.

In the coming months, the ratio of unvaccinated to vaccinated people in the hospital will shift as so many people get the shots.

It’s not a sign that the vaccines aren’t working, but they aren’t perfect and a small percentage of immunized people will get sick anyway.

The analysis also found that from February to mid-July, of those under 50 who received both vaccines, only four patients died with the Delta variant of the 15,346 cases in this group (0.02 percent5).

There are 34 deaths among unvaccinated in the same age group, among 119,063 Delta cases (0.02 percent).

Meanwhile, among the over-50s who have received both vaccinations, there are 220 deaths out of 13,427 cases (1.64 percent).

And there are 131 deaths among the unvaccinated over-50s among 2,337 cases (5.6 percent).

The PHE briefing also noted that the Delta variant, which has spread worldwide, currently accounts for about 99% of cases in the UK.

The beta variant, first identified in South Africa, currently accounts for less than 0.2 percent of cases in the UK.

dr. Jenny Harries, chief executive of the UK Health Security Agency, said: ‘These latest hospitalization data shows once again how crucial vaccination is in protecting us from serious illness and death.

‘Two doses of vaccine are much more effective against Covid-19 than a single dose, so be sure to come forward to get your second dose as soon as you’re invited.

“As we come out of the restrictions and vaccination rates continue to rise, it is important to remember that while the protection afforded by vaccination is excellent, it is not total.

“It is still equally important that we remain cautious.

‘Remember that meeting outside is safer than indoors, get two doses of the vaccine as soon as possible, isolate if NHS Test and Trace tells you, and if you show symptoms, stay home and get a PCR test done.

“Covid-19 has not gone away and we must all continue to play our part.”

It comes as PHE announced it had discovered another Covid variant spreading in Britain, with 31 mutated strains now on the UK watchlist.

Sixteen cases of the B.1.621 version of the virus — believed to have originated in Colombia — have already been discovered.

PHE insists there is no evidence that it is more deadly than Delta. And it says there is no evidence that the strain makes the vaccines currently being used less effective.

The government-run agency also claims that there is no sign of B.1.621 spreading in the community.

It does admit that the variant contains a number of ‘worrying mutations’.

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