'Unfortunately': Delta variant will spread across Europe, says expert amid virus surge
The UK government faced criticism for not implementing stronger border measures to check the spread of the Delta variant earlier this summer.
As governments around the world are scrambling to contain the Delta variant of coronavirus by imposing new restrictions, a British expert has said that the variant of concern, B.1.617.2, will spread across Europe. Sir Peter Horby, the chairman of the UK’s New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag), told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show that the modelling of the Alpha variant, first detected in Kent, allowed scientists to predict its transmissibility and spread.
“That same modelling for the Delta variant would suggest that that’s a more transmissible strain, it will be very difficult to control and so I think we will see it spreading in Europe, unfortunately,” Horby, also a professor of emerging infectious diseases in the Nuffield Department of Medicine, University of Oxford, said.
The UK government faced criticism for not implementing stronger border measures to check the spread of the Delta variant earlier this summer. Britain expanded its travel “red list” only after the second wave of coronavirus, believed to be largely driven by the Delta variant, had started wreaking havoc in India.
When asked whether a delay in stronger border measures allowed the Delta variant to become the dominant strain, Horby said that it’s clear that the variant, first detected in India, started to spread within the UK after its introductions from other countries.
“So I think there is a case to be said that that did happen and stronger border measures may have delayed that, may even have prevented it. But there is an obvious trade-off that policymakers and politicians have to make between absolute complete restrictions and stopping various viruses coming in,” Horby told BBC.
World Health Organization (WHO) director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Friday said that the Delta variant, first identified in India, is spreading in at least 85 countries, adding that it is the “most transmissible of the variants identified so far”.
Britain has already extended the full reopening of businesses by four weeks and countries across the world, including Bangladesh, Australia, and Israel, have started imposing restrictions due to the fresh surge. More than 70% of coronavirus cases in Portugal’s Lisbon region are from the Delta variant, which is said to be rapidly spreading to other parts of the country.