Delta variant doubles risk of COVID-19 hospitalization compared to alpha variant

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In a new study from the National Infection Service, researchers found people infected with the COVID-19 delta variant have double the risk of hospitalization compared with those infected with the alpha variant.

The risk of attending hospital for emergency care or being admitted to the hospital within 14 days of infection with the delta variant was also one and a half times greater compared with the alpha variant.

This study confirms previous findings that people infected with Delta are much more likely to require hospitalization than those with Alpha, although most cases included in the analysis were unvaccinated.

The delta variant was first reported in India in December 2020.

Early studies found it to be up to 50% more transmissible than the variant of COVID-19 that had previously gained dominance worldwide, known as the alpha variant, first identified in Kent, UK.

In the study, researchers analyzed healthcare data from 43,338 positive COVID-19 cases in England between 29 March and 23 May 2021.

In all cases included in the study, samples of the virus taken from patients underwent whole-genome sequencing to confirm which variant had caused the infection.

During the study period, there were 34,656 cases of the alpha variant (80%) and 8,682 cases of the delta variant (20%).

While the proportion of delta cases in the study period overall was 20%, it grew to account for around two-thirds of new COVID-19 cases in the week starting 17 May 2021, indicating it had overtaken alpha to become the dominant variant in England.

Around one in 50 patients were admitted to the hospital within 14 days of their first positive COVID-19 test.

The researchers found the risk of being admitted to the hospital was more than doubled with the delta variant compared with the alpha variant.

Multiple studies have shown that full vaccination prevents both symptomatic infection and hospitalization, for both alpha and delta variants.

Indeed, in this study, only 1.8% of COVID-19 cases (with either variant) had received both doses of the vaccine; 74% of cases were unvaccinated, and 24% were partially vaccinated.

The results from this study therefore primarily tell about the risk of hospital admission for those who are unvaccinated or partially vaccinated.

The team says that in the absence of vaccination, any Delta outbreaks will impose a greater burden on healthcare than an Alpha epidemic.

Getting fully vaccinated is crucial for reducing an individual’s risk of symptomatic infection with Delta in the first place, and, importantly, of reducing a Delta patient’s risk of severe illness and hospital admission.

If you care about COVID, please read studies about these 2 things are best tools against Delta variant and findings of this single-shot COVID-19 vaccine can protect against variants.

For more information about COVID and your health, please see recent studies about a new way to prevent broad range of COVID-19 variants and results showing that scientists develop a new drug combo to beat Delta variant.

The study is published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases. One author of the study is Dr. Gavin Dabrera.

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