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Variable delta worries Tegnell: a new scenario

Variable delta worries Tegnell: a new scenario

It is now more important than ever for everyone to complete their vaccination and to take two doses of the vaccine provided.

This is what state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell says due to the fact that the number of cases of the so-called delta variant of the coronavirus is increasing.

– This scenario is similar to what happened when the British alternative (Alpha) came along which proved to be very effective in taking charge, he says.

In the UK, the delta variant has completely taken over the spread of infection and now accounts for more than 90 per cent of all new cases. This variant, first discovered in India and also known as B.1.617.2, contains mutations that make it more contagious.

It spreads more easily

In addition, there is information that the delta variant more often leads to severe disease than the alpha variant, which, in turn, is more dangerous than the original variant.

In Sweden, the number of cases of the delta variant has been low so far – until last week, when the Swedish Public Health Agency detected an increasing number of cases, especially in Värmland and Blicking.

TT: How is the science behind claims that the delta variant is more contagious and more dangerous?

It was the British who did it and they are very good and very careful. It is very likely that the (delta variant) will spread more easily (than the alpha variant). But if it actually caused a more serious illness, they still felt hesitant and that’s what we stand for today.

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It may be more dangerous

TT: But could it be more serious, too?

– It may be so, but we don’t know yet. At this point, there are quite a few studies showing that the alpha risk is slightly higher (than the original variant), but we don’t yet know if that’s the case for the delta variant, says Anders Tegnell.

The good news, he says, is that the same type of infection control measures seem to work on the virus, regardless of the alternative, and that two doses of the vaccine offer good protection.

– After one dose, the protective effect against the delta variant is a little lower, but after two doses it is higher compared to the other variants, so this is a very good reason for everyone to complete the vaccination and take two doses

According to the latest figures from Public Health England, which have not yet been scientifically reviewed, the protective effect against serious diseases after two doses of Astra Zeneca vaccine is 86 percent against the alpha variant and up to 92 percent against the delta variant (see graphic). For Pfizer-Biontech vaccines, the corresponding figures are 95 and 96 percent, respectively.

Thus both vaccines are highly effective against both alpha and delta variants. Especially after two doses. After a dose of Astra vaccine, protection against severe disease due to the delta variant is “only” 71 percent.

Anders Tegnell, a state epidemiologist at the Swedish Public Health Agency, believes that the delta variant requires respect. Photo: Jonas Ekströmer / TT