Delta Variant Could Make Up 90 Percent of Europe's COVID Cases by End of August

The novel coronavirus's Delta variant could make up 90 percent of Europe's COVID-19 cases by the end of August, according to a new report.

Published by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), the study stated that "based on the estimated transmission advantage of the Delta variant and using modeling forecasts," 70 percent of new COVID-19 cases are projected to be of this variant in the European Union (EU) by early August, and 90 percent of infections by the end of that same month.

ECDC said in the report that the Delta variant (B.1.617.2) is 40 to 60 percent more transmissible than the Alpha variant (Β.1.1.7).

The Delta variant is also associated with a higher risk of hospitalization, according to the study.

The Delta variant was first detected in India, and the ECDC recently upgraded it from a "variant of interest" to a "variant of concern." The report noted that while the risks associated with the Delta variant are considered to be "low" for those who are fully vaccinated, the risks are considered "high-to-very high for partially or unvaccinated sub-populations."

Additionally, forecasts indicate that the easing of COVID-19 restrictions in the summer months "could lead to a fast and significant increase in daily cases in all age groups." According to the report, the Delta variant could increase hospitalizations and deaths "potentially reaching the same levels of the autumn of 2020 if no additional measure are taken."

ECDC Director Andrea Ammon wrote to Newsweek that "unfortunately, preliminary data shows that it can also infect individuals that have received only one dose of the currently available vaccines. It is very likely that the Delta variant will circulate extensively during the summer, particularly among younger individuals that are not targeted for vaccination. This could cause a risk for the more vulnerable individuals to be infected and experience severe illness and death if they are not fully vaccinated.

"The good news," Ammon continued, "is that having received two doses of any of the currently available vaccines provides high protection against this variant and its consequences. However, about 30% of individuals older than 80 years and about 40% of individuals older than 60 years have not yet received a full vaccination course in the European Union."

In addition to the ECDC, health officials across the globe have emphasized the risks associated with the Delta variant and its ability to become a more prevalent strain of COVID-19. The World Health Organization (WHO) previously classified the Delta variant as a "variant of concern" and said that it is becoming the dominant strain across the globe.

Meanwhile, the Delta variant recently became the premier strain in the United Kingdom, making up around 60 percent of all cases.

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Rochelle Walensky recently said that she "anticipates" the Delta variant becoming America's dominant strain. "We know that the Delta variant is even more transmissible than the U.K. variant, and I anticipate that will be the predominant variant in the months ahead," she said during an interview with CNN.

COVID-19
A pedestrian wearing face covering due to Covid-19, walks past a sign asking members of the public to social distance, in central London on June 7, 2021. - The Delta variant of the coronavirus, first discovered in India, is estimated to be 40 percent more transmissible than the Alpha variant that caused the last wave of infections in the UK, Britain's health minister said Sunday. Niklas Halle'n/Getty