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How Other Countries are Riding the COVID-19 Delta Variant Wave

By Alejandra Pousa, 21/07/21


Torn between protecting lives and livelihoods, as well as keeping their political images afloat, most governments are struggling to get people vaccinated as soon as possible. It is no secret now, that immunization is the only way to keep new infections at bay, and that the more the virus circulates, the more the probabilities of its mutating into a version fitter for survival, and hence more prone to outsmart the barrier that the current vaccines provide.

The Delta variant, though not necessarily more devastating, is by far more contagious: the viral load of an individual suffering from Delta is estimated to be 1,000 times higher than common Covid. This viral load peaks at approximately 3.7 days from exposure to detection, during the phase when individuals present no symptoms. This means that we can make others sick more quickly, more efficiently and that the time frame of PCR tests should be shortened to 48 hours.

As for populations, everyone is completely fed up with masking, social distancing, and any other preventive measures. Vaccine hesitancy, brought about by the different levels of distrust with which such measures are met, and the inability of different authorities of translating scientific jargon into something meaningful, add to the list of factors that complicate the already difficult situation.

So, how are Europe and the U.S.coping with Delta?

France:

Currently undergoing a rise of 125% in cases per 100,000 per week with 80% of infections attributable to Delta.

Macron's proposed compulsory vaccination for health workers plan met with 100,000 people taking to the streets to oppose it. As of today, the first phase of the health pass (digital evidence of certificate or negative pcr) comes into force with hefty fines and even prison for noncompliance.

A target of 50 million first dose jabs to be administered until the end of August.

Vaccination of the 12-17 group as of June 1st: only 20% showed up to receive the first dose and thus will not be fully protected until the end of October.

Spain:

Currently undergoing the perfect storm: Easter holidays; end of term student vacations; low rate of full vaccination (only 7.2%), and relaxation of preventive measures.

Official figures say the strain accounts for 11% of cases which was met with skepticism by the experts who put the figure at 32% at least.

Delta is now dominant in four main regions and many of them are considering reinstating measures to contain the spike in infections in the +15-30 group.

To make matters worse, 40% of +60's are not fully vaccinated as well as 25% of the 40's-60's group who have only had one dose.

England:

On Monday, and despite the rise in infections - some 50,000 daily cases-, restrictions have been lifted, including masking and social distancing.

69% of the population have received one jab and 52% are fully vaccinated.

Whether betting strongly on herd immunity or high vaccination rates and perhaps hoping Covid has become a manageable threat, England is opening its economy. The government is being accused of recklessly exposing the population and running the risk of creating the conditions for the emergence of a new vaccine defense evading variant.

The U.S.:

83% of cases are now caused by Delta, strain which has been identified in all 50 states.

49% of the population is fully vaccinated but the increase in infections is more dramatic in areas with relaxed precautions and higher vaccine hesitancy.

Hospitalizations have increased. The majority are either unvaccinated or partially vaccinated people. The CDC reported that preliminary data suggested that 99.5% of deaths were unvaccinated people thus confirming Scottish findings: this strain is twice as likely to lead to hospitalization.

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