Coronavirus outbreak in Europe’s delta shows controllable


Jonathan Brady – Pa Images / PA Images via Getty Images

England fans line up outside a bar in Finsbury Park, London, ahead of the Euro 2020 final on July 11, 2021.

In the past two weeks, the coronary delta variant appeared dashed hopes of many Americans are looking forward to celebrating a “hot summer” and the end of the pandemic.

as health experts warned in juneThe highly contagious delta variant hit especially in states with low vaccination rates, Filling hospitals and morgues Back in the day to some of the darkest days of the pandemic. And unlike previous variants, the new data suggests that some vaccinated people who have had delta virus — while largely protected from severe disease — can still spread the virus to others. This has led to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notifying people who have been vaccinated in areas with high transmission rates of the virus. You should resume wearing masks In indoor public places.

Big questions still remain About the prevalence of “hack” cases in Delta. But there is now a growing sense of dread that Delta will be an unstoppable force.

However, the message from experts watching delta waves in Europe is more encouraging, suggesting that the usual rulebook still applies: Vaccination and strategies such as covering up in public and avoiding crowding can keep case numbers low.

Meanwhile, some observers I looked at what happened With Delta in the UK and India, where the variant was first discovered, it has been speculated that the misery of Delta America may occur. least short-livedAll we do is to limit the spread of the variable. In both countries, the sharp rise in cases was followed by a similar rapid decline, indicating that the rapidly spreading delta variant burns itself out fairly quickly.

There are two big problems with this view. First, if we let Delta simply run its course, the cost in overburdened lives and hospitals would be high.

“On the way to that point there will be a catastrophic number of hospitalizations,” Lauren Ansel Meyers, a computational epidemiologist at the University of Texas at Austin and director of UT Modeling Consortium COVID-19, for BuzzFeed News. “It will overburden your health care system.”

Second, if you look at the variety of delta curves seen across Europe, it is not clear that there is a fast-burning delta wave. And in those countries that have experienced rapid ups and downs, it appears that changes in people’s behavior – rather than characteristics inherent in the delta variable – are a large part of what turned things around.

Dive into the reasons behind the various delta waves seen across Europe, and a more optimistic message emerges: As frightening as it may be, the delta variant appears to be manageable. Vaccination is our best weapon, but the modest social distancing measures that have worked against other, less transmissible forms of the coronavirus can also help tremendously.

Delta waves in selected countries

Peter Aldhous / BuzzFeed News / via Our World in Data / Johns Hopkins University CSSE / / GISAID

It makes no sense to compare catastrophic delta wave in india With those in the US, UK and other European countries, experts say. It is not only India’s huge population highly invulnerable At the time, the delta variant devastated the country in April and May, but monitoring and testing were so incomplete that it was unclear whether the recorded curve of new cases accurately reflected the number of people infected.

But if you look at the delta waves seen so far in European countries and the United States, the curves are very different. In the chart above, only the UK and the Netherlands showed a fast rise and fall, while other countries experienced a slower rise. In Germany, the delta curve is hardly a flicker.

While the UK was exposed to the delta variant before others, largely due to people traveling to and from India, the timing at which delta established its dominance cannot explain the differences between the other countries shown.

It is very difficult to disentangle the exact reasons for the differences between the delta waves of European countries. But transmission will depend on how many people have some immunity – either through vaccination or previous coronavirus infections – and the behavior patterns that encourage the spread.

Among the countries shown, France has the lowest vaccination rate, with 49% of its population fully vaccinated (the United States is slightly ahead of this, at 50%). Meanwhile, the UK has the highest rate, with 57.3% of the population fully vaccinated. The other European countries shown are all hermetically packed between 53.2% and 54.2%. Therefore, the extent of grafting does not seem to explain the large differences observed in the delta curves of the countries.

One evidence that differences in people’s behavior played an important role is Germany’s retention. Stricter social distancing controls from most of its European neighbours, requiring people who do not live together to separate 1.5 meters (about 5 feet) and to wear medical masks on public transport and in stores.

Meanwhile, looking at the two countries that experienced a rapid rise and fall in cases caused by the delta variable, provides strong indications that large gatherings of people played a large role in each of those waves.

How the Football Championship boosted the UK’s Delta wave

The UK boom appears to have been accelerated by Euro 2020 Football tournament, where fans crowded into bars and homes to watch matches. In both England and Scotland, the rise in new cases increased significantly a week or two after the two teams played their first matches, only to reverse two weeks after each team withdrew.

Team Scotland were fired early. But in England, which reached the final, the watch parties lasted until July 11.

The timing of subsequent peaks is exactly what epidemiologists would expect, if the gatherings to watch the games were the ones that strongly drove the delta waves. “It takes two weeks for the signal to appear unambiguously in the data,” Paul Hunter, an epidemiologist at the University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom, told BuzzFeed News.

In contrast to previous increases in the UK, cases were dominated by men, in proportion to the demographics of those who watched matches. and New study From Public Health Scotland the notion that Delta’s announced peak in the UK was largely driven by a breakdown in social distancing during tournament viewing parties. At its peak, the researchers noted, “more than half of the cases reported in Scotland attended an EURO 2020 event or were in close contact with an individual who attended”.

Most of those infected were fairly young and did not develop severe disease. This, combined with the UK’s rapid progress in vaccination in the past few months, means that the peak hospitalization was less than a fifth of that seen in the UK in January, at the height of its wave with the alpha variant. And while COVID deaths have risen slightly, currently only about 90 people per day die from the disease across the UK, compared to more than 1,200 at the height of the alpha wave.

The rapid turnaround in UK cases baffled some experts who had predicted infections would rise to new heights after ‘Freedom Day’ on July 19, when Prime Minister Boris Johnson removed remaining coronavirus restrictions in England, allowing pubs and restaurants to operate normally and removing all requirements the mask.

While Neil Ferguson of Imperial College London, a modeler of diseases, predicted the emergence of new cases It can go up to 200,000 per day, the 7-day rolling average of new cases peaked at just under 50,000 cases per day around Freedom Day and then started declining. In the past few days, the decline in the number of cases appears to have leveled off, and It is not clear Where the delta wave in the UK travels from here.

BSR Agency / Getty Images

Passengers at Schiphol International Airport on July 12, 2021 in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

The other European country that has seen an obvious rapid rise and fall in the number of cases is the Netherlands. About 10 days after the Dutch government removed nearly all remaining coronavirus restrictions on June 26, cases are starting to rise. “It was really the peak of cases among young people,” Tom Winslers, a biostatistician and evolutionary biologist at the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium, told BuzzFeed News. As in the UK, this has not translated into a significant increase in hospitalizations or deaths.

However, the nation abruptly reversed course on July 9, closing nightclubs and restricting bars and restaurants to designated seating that remained 1.5 metres. “Most of the infections occurred in nightlife venues and at parties with large numbers of people,” the Dutch government said, in the current situation Announcing new restrictions.

The Dutch Delta wave peaked within two weeks of the new restrictions. If this rapid shift is indeed driven primarily by the closing of nightclubs, it provides another encouraging message that the delta variant can be contained through more subtle changes in behavior than a complete closure.

“The UK and the Netherlands should be a counselor against despair,” Bill Hanage, an epidemiologist at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, told BuzzFeed News. “We don’t need to be fatalistic about the delta variable.”

Hanage is not the only one who believes that experience in European countries indicates that modest precautions such as wearing masks in public indoor spaces and avoiding large gatherings can make a big difference in the face of the delta variable.

“When you change behaviors, with or without formal policy changes, in a way that protects you from infection, we see that kind of shift,” Myers said.

Delta waves and vaccination against the Corona virus in the United States of America

Peter Aldous/BuzzFeed News/Via New York Times/CDC

As the graph above shows, states with lower vaccination rates thus far tend to experience more severe delta waves.

So in the long run, boosting vaccination in places where few people have picked up remains the best hope of defeating the delta variant in the United States. But while vaccination rates is increasing more rapidly In the states currently experiencing the delta’s steepest rises, there’s a long way to go — and people who get their first shot today won’t have strong protection for several weeks.

Asked at a White House press briefing Thursday what the United States should do to combat delta waves, Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, supported the idea that controls that helped reverse previous increases in altitude would work again.

“You can do that in the immediate sense right now by mitigating,” Fauci said. “Mitigating is the kinds of things that I’ve heard from the CDC recommendations in terms of concealment, in terms of avoiding crowded situations where you can increase the ability of the virus to spread.”

“Vaccination is the ultimate end game of all of this,” Fauci added. But if the United States can mitigate the spread of the disease in the short term and boost vaccination rates in the long term, he said, “we will change the direction of the delta wave. I will guarantee you that will happen.”

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