Covid: Delta variant cases climb as variant spreads among younger people

Young adults are being urged to get their Covid jabs on 'Super Saturday', ITV News Science Editor Tom Clarke reports

More than 30,000 cases of the Covid Delta variant have been identified in a week by health officials, with the strain particularly prevalent among younger people.

Public Health England (PHE) have pinpointed 33,630 more cases of the variant in the UK compared to last week - up by 79% on the previous week - although an increase in testing is likely to have contributed to the rise.

The data shows that 75,953 confirmed and probable cases of the Covid-19 Delta variant have now been found in the UK - which means it now accounts for 99% of all coronavirus cases in the UK.

Of the 75,953, some 70,856 have been in England, 4,659 in Scotland, 254 in Northern Ireland and 184 in Wales.

Hospital cases have also risen, though most of those needing treatment have not had a vaccine.

Dr Jenny Harries, chief executive of the UK Health Security Agency, said the increase across the UK is being driven by younger age groups, many of whom have now been invited for a vaccination as the jab rollout extends to anyone aged 18 and over.

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ITV News Science Editor Tom Clarke explained that the Delta variant is now the dominant strain in the UK.

"That shows it has a competitive edge," he said. "We're seeing more and more people going into hospital and we're seeing people die, thankfully not very many, just over 70 people have died because of the Delta variant."

"Those hospitalisations are still tracking below where we were in terms of hospitalisations compared to previous variants, that's because of the vaccine of course.

"The fact that cases are rising the most in younger people will be addressed by the announcement today that anyone over 18 can now go and get a vaccine and hopefully we can chase it down the age groups, and reduce it spilling into older people.

"The people who make up the severe cases and those dying, many of those are people who are unvaccinated, or who have had two doses of the vaccine, but are still vulnerable or are in ill health, who go on to die, so really important they don't bleed through, hence the vaccinations."

The data was published as the Office for National Statistics revealed the latest results of its on-going infection survey.

That shows virus infections are continuing to rise across England.

Around one in 520 people in private households in England had Covid-19 in the week to June 12 – up from one in 560 in the previous week, according to the latest estimates from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

This is the highest level since the week to April 10.

In Wales, it is 1 in 1,500, down from 1 in 1,300 last week; in Scotland it is 1 in 600 (1 in 540) and in Northern Ireland it is 1 in 610 (1 in 700).

(PA Graphics) Credit: PA Graphics

Dr Harries said: “Cases are rising rapidly across the country and the Delta variant is now dominant.

“The increase is primarily in younger age groups, a large proportion of which were unvaccinated but are now being invited to receive the vaccine.”

Meanwhile, 806 people in England have been admitted to hospital with the Delta variant of Covid-19 as of June 14, a rise of 423 on the previous week, according to PHE data.

Of the 806 admitted, 527 (65%) were unvaccinated, 135 (17%) were more than 21 days after their first dose of vaccine, and 84 (10%) were more than 14 days after their second dose.

As of June 14, there have been 73 deaths in England of people who were confirmed as having the Delta variant and who died within 28 days of a positive test.

(PA Graphics) Credit: PA Graphics

Of this number, 34 (47%) were unvaccinated, 10 (14%) were more than 21 days after their first dose of vaccine and 26 (36%) were more than 14 days after their second dose.

Dr Harries said: “It is encouraging to see that hospitalisations and deaths are not rising at the same rate, but we will continue to monitor it closely.

“The vaccination programme and the care that we are all taking to follow the guidance are continuing to save lives.

“Please make sure that you come forward to receive both doses of the vaccine as soon as you are eligible. Don’t drop your guard – practice hands, face, space, fresh air at all times.”