Covid: Patients with Delta variant twice as likely to be hospitalised

The huge study confirms what doctors on the ground have known for a while about Delta (Picture: PA/EPA)

A large study of Covid-19 patients has confirmed the Delta variant is more likely to land infected people in hospital.

Researchers analysed 43,338 samples of the coronavirus collected from patients between March and May, when the Alpha variant was still circulating. 

The new major study proves conclusively that Delta patients were more than twice as likely to be admitted to hospital.

Its authors say the findings, first published in The Lancet, provide yet more evidence that the vaccine is essential.

At the time the samples used in the study were collected, there was low vaccine coverage (1.8% of adults) and the Delta strain, which was imported from India, was vying for supremacy with the version first found in Kent. 

Delta grew rapidly through 2021 and now accounts for almost all Covid-19 cases in the UK.

Health experts have long known that Delta spreads more easily and this new research adds to the growing body of evidence that it is also more serious.

Critical Care staff take care of a Covid-19 patient on the Christine Brown ward at King's College Hospital in London

As of August 20, the seven day average of daily hospital admission rates is almost 900 (Picture: AFP)
The report’s authors say the findings strengthen the argument with vaccination as attempts to ramp up rates among younger people continue (Picture: PA)

It found one in 50 patients were admitted to hospital within two weeks of their first positive test, or 2.3% of Delta cases and 2.2% of the Alpha variant.

But when researchers adjusted these figures to take into account other factors to determine the risk of being admitted to hospital, the real world risk was more than doubled for Delta. These included someone’s age, ethnicity and vaccination status.

The study is described as the ‘largest assessment of hospitalisation risk for the delta variant using cases confirmed by whole-genome sequencing’.

Cases are back on the rise across the country, with more than 38,000 new infections confirmed yesterday.

Numbers dropped off unexpectedly at the end of July despite the easing of restrictions but levelled off in early August and have been climbing since.

A further 100 deaths were confirmed yesterday and hospital admissions continue to rise, wih 948 confirmed on August 23.

The proportion of the population older than 16 to have received two doses of a vaccine now stands at 78%.

Dr Gavin Dabrera, one of the study’s lead authors and a consultant epidemiologist at Public Health England, said: ‘This study confirms previous findings that people infected with Delta are significantly more likely to require hospitalisation than those with Alpha, although most cases included in the analysis were unvaccinated.

‘We already know that vaccination offers excellent protection against Delta and as this variant accounts for over 98% of Covid-19 cases in the UK, it is vital that those who have not received two doses of vaccine do so as soon as possible.’

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