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Experts want countries to closely watch UK strategy of combating Delta variant

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson had earlier expressed confidence in the government’s four-step roadmap out of lockdown that would have culminated on June 21 if not for the Delta variant.
As the Delta variant is becoming a dominant strain in many countries, experts believe that they should look at Britain’s approach closely.(AFP)
Published on Jun 30, 2021 08:27 PM IST
Byhindustantimes.com | Edited by Kunal Gaurav, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

Experts are urging countries to watch the strategy of the United Kingdom closely as it attempts to out-vaccinate the potential third wave of coronavirus disease (Covid-19) driven by the highly transmissible Delta variant first detected in India, according to a CNN report. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson had earlier expressed confidence in the government’s four-step roadmap out of lockdown that would have culminated on June 21 if not for the Delta variant.

The government had to extend the final phase of lifting virtually all restrictions and returning back to normal on July 19, a goal targeted through aggressive vaccination drives. Britain boasts of one of the largest vaccination coverage in the world in terms of vaccination population percentage and should have been easier than other countries. However, the emergence of the Delta variant, which has become the dominant strain in the country, could potentially jeopardise Britain’s plan to return back to normal.

Dr Susan Hopkins, strategy director for Covid-19 at Public Health England (PHE), recently said that it should be possible for 70 per cent of the adult population to receive both doses of Covid vaccine before July 19, indicating an endorsement of the government's position on the final phase of unlocking. But the country is now witnessing a worrying spike in Covid-19 cases, with nearly 120,000 new infections reported in the past week.

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The impact of vaccination has impacted the demography of infection since recent data on Covid-19 indicates that people under-30s, who have not been extensively vaccinated, were the ones largely infected by the virus. Deepti Gurdasani, a senior epidemiology lecturer at the Queen Mary University of London, told CNN that the Delta variant has the “potential to change the shape of the pandemic” in the UK.

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While Britain’s new health secretary, Sajid Javid, has stressed that there’s “no reason” to reconsider the July 19 target for opening-up, several countries have started imposing restrictions on travellers from the UK in the wake of Delta variant spread. Hong Kong, a former British colony, has labelled the United Kingdom as an "extremely high-risk" location.

As the variant of concern is becoming a dominant strain in many countries across the world, experts believe that they should look at Britain’s approach closely, which is solely relying on vaccines to contain a potential catastrophe. Gurdasani said that Britain needs to refocus the entire strategy, adding that all countries need to have a long term focus on masks and ventilation.

"What we're seeing is the dangers of a vaccine-only strategy. Vaccines are a hugely important part of our response, but we do need to protect our vaccines, and we need to reduce transmission," Gurdasani was quoted as saying by CNN.

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