The UK government said on Friday that the new variant of the Delta coronavirus is 60% more transmissible in households than the UK’s Alpha variant.
The Delta variant, which first appeared in India, has caused an increase in cases in Britain, raising questions as to whether social distancing restrictions will be lifted as planned from June 21.
New research from Public Health England “Suggests that the Delta variant is associated with an approximately 60% increased risk of domestic transmission” compared to the Alpha variant first identified in South East England.
So far, there have been 42,323 identified cases of the Delta variant in the UK, according to data from Public Health England, up from 29,892 on June 2.
The Alpha variant sparked a spate of coronavirus cases in January ahead of a mass vaccination campaign, resulting in a three-month lockdown as hospitals were nearly exhausted.
The government has since stepped up its vaccination campaign and has now administered nearly 41 million first doses and nearly 29 million second doses to adults over 25 years of age.
This means that 43 percent of the total population are fully vaccinated and 18 percent are half vaccinated.
But cases are rising again, with new daily infections reaching 7,393 on Thursday, a level not seen since February. More than 90% of the new cases were of the Delta variant, the government said.
However, the number of hospital patients remains low, at just over 1,000 on Thursday, and Health Secretary Matt Hancock said most of the hospital patients were unvaccinated.