HSE chief warns of "big increase in transmissibility" of Delta variant 1 month ago

HSE chief warns of "big increase in transmissibility" of Delta variant

There have been 180 cases of the Delta variant in Ireland to date.

HSE's Chief Clinical Officer (CCO) Dr Colm Henry has warned of a "big increase in transmissibility" regarding the Delta Variant of Covid-19.

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The CCO confirmed at a HSE briefing on Thursday afternoon that there have been to date 180 cases of the Delta variant in Ireland.

Referring to a study from Public Health England published this week, Henry said about the variant: "It spreads much more easily, much more willfully... about 60% higher than B.117, which we knew already was very transmissible."

He stated that some evidence suggests the Delta variant results in increased hospitalisation, "perhaps to the order of 2.5 fold over the previous variants".

Henry added that this means it "may well cause a more severe illness".

On the impact of immunity, he added: "When we use... the blood from people who recovered from previous types of the virus, when we mixed that with this new variant, we find it doesn't neutralise or knock out the virus as effectively as we would like.

"Immune response was there before - it doesn't seem to be as effective against this Delta variant... If there's reduced vaccine effectiveness, it's particularly in those after one dose.

"But for severe illness, that study's showing big reduction in hospitalisation after two doses, giving us some hope."

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Henry said there is a "big increase in transmissibility" of the Delta variant, stating: "If you are a household contact of someone who's a Delta positive case, [there is a] 60% increased chance you'll catch this Delta variant, compared to before.

"As we know from here, that's where the highest degree of transmission took place... among household contacts."

On the 180 cases of the variant in Ireland, the CCO said: "The efforts of everyone to date, even with the reopening of society, have been to stunt the introduction and the spread of this variant.

"But given its behaviour in England and Wales, it is inevitable those figures will go up".