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With 21 million still unvaccinated, Britain is not out of the woods yet | Azra Ghani and Oliver Watson

Vaccination has weakened the link between Covid cases and hospitalisations, but not entirely broken it

This week the steady rise of Covid cases in the UK was accompanied by a worrying signal of rising hospital admissions. Of most concern was the notable increase in the number of people becoming severely ill and requiring mechanical ventilation. It seems clear that the UK has entered a third Covid-19 wave, which raises the question: to what extent will vaccines protect the NHS from unmanageable strain?

The growth of Covid cases across the UK should come as no surprise. The Delta variant is now clearly established and has 20%-60% higher transmissibility than the previous Alpha variant. According to Public Health England, there were 35,204 new cases resulting from the variant last week, and 117 deaths of people confirmed to have the variant and to have had a positive test in the last 28 days. A single dose of the vaccine is also less effective against this new variant. Reported cases continue to be concentrated in younger age groups, many of whom will only now be receiving their first vaccinations. So, while 60% of the adult population is now fully vaccinated, 40% remain susceptible – some 21 million people. Coupled with children, this large unvaccinated population is clearly sufficient to drive a third wave of cases. The issue now is whether high vaccine uptake in the UK has broken the link between cases, hospitalisations and deaths.

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Read the original article at The Guardian

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