People who got infected with the delta variant of the coronavirus are twice more likely to require hospitalization than those who contracted the alpha strain, according to a U.K.-based study, which forecasts an alarming future for health services this winter.
A study analyzed over 43,000 Covid-19 patients in England, and concluded that the vaccine could help prevent hospitalization from both variants.
The study focused on positive cases detected between March 29 and May 23, taking samples of the virus via whole-genome sequencing to figure out which variant each patient contracted.
Approximately 3/4 patients were unvaccinated, while 24% received one dose of the vaccine, while only 2% received both shots.
The Delta variant first made its appearance in India in December, and early studies suggested that it was 50% more transmissible than other strains.
It rapidly reached over 130 countries, becoming the prevalent variant in most countries it reached.
The discoveries of the study may suggest that health services could be overwhelmed during the cold season, especially as children return to school this fall, and numerous countries are ending lockdowns and isolation measures.
Anne Presanis, one of the main authors of the study and a senior statistician at Cambridge, said:
“Our analysis highlights that in the absence of vaccination, any delta outbreaks will impose a greater burden on healthcare than an alpha epidemic. Getting fully vaccinated is crucial for reducing an individual’s risk of symptomatic infection with delta.”
Over the study’s two-month period, 80% of the cases consisted of alpha-infected individuals, with the rest being beta-infected.
However, in the study’s final week, delta accounted for two-thirds of the total cases as it was the dominant strain in the country.
Though the researchers had no access to information regarding the patients’ pre-existing health conditions, they took into account age, ethnicity, gender, and an estimated level of socioeconomic deprivation to determine the number of people who were more likely to be hospitalized from Covid-19.
A study from Scotland made in June also suggested that the Delta variant had a twice bigger risk of hospitalizing its victims compared to Alpha.