Washington State has recently published an update on the number of vaccine breakthrough cases. Importantly, it shows which Sars-CoV-2 variant is responsible for 661 of those cases through genome sequencing. This hugely important information is not available for most states in the USA, so the fact that Washington State continues to publish this information for the Covid variants currently circulating in that state makes it all the more valuable. Spoiler alert: Delta B.1.617.2 is NOT YET the most common variant for vaccine breakthrough cases in Washington State! That situation will almost certainly change over the next few weeks as Delta becomes more dominant across the U.S.
The most common variant currently causing vaccine breakthroughs in Washington State up to 30th June 2021 is Alpha, (B.1.1.7), at 37%, followed by Gamma (P.1) at 17%. The Delta variant (B.1.617.2) currently only accounts for about 5% of vaccine breakthrough infections.
The Epsilon variant (B.1.429) is showing as being responsible for 15% of all breakthrough cases, yet represents just 3% of the total genome sequences for May to June, and never rose above 10% of genome samples from April 2021.
Washington State data on all breakthrough cases:
Sars-CoV-2 variants circulating in Washington State April – June 2021:
As you can see, Washington State has recorded 2,228 vaccine breakthrough cases in total which represents a tiny fraction of the 6 million people now vaccinated in that state.
Our thanks to The Washington State Department of Health for providing this vital information.
The highly transmissible Delta variant is the most common strain of the Covid-19 virus circulating in the U.S., new data shows. An analysis of genetic sequencing data as of June 27 showed that the Delta strain, also known as B.1.617.2, now makes up about 40% of positive Covid-19 test samples.
** Outbreak.info is showing that the Delta variant has risen to about 47% in the last three weeks.
After months of being ravaged by the Alpha variant (B.1.1.7) in 2020, Britain seemed to turn a corner in its fight with the coronavirus in early 2021. After a gruelling lockdown, the Alpha variant was fading fast, and, by the middle of May 2021, Britain was within touching distance of Zero Covid. Then, through lax border controls, Delta was allowed to enter the country, and the infection cycle restarted.
Will Britain make the same mistake with the *next* variant of concern? With borders opening and “Freedom Day” on the horizon, it’s a racing certainty.
Bangladesh is set to enter the toughest lockdown enforced till now in a bid to control the alarming Covid-19 situation after logging the highest number of single-day fatalities and cases in two consecutive days.
During this lockdown, people will not be allowed to leave their houses except for emergencies and on top of that no movement passes will be issued like the last time, according to the decision taken at the Cabinet meeting on Monday.
At the meeting, the Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina instructed the authorities to provide food and cash aid to temporary jobless people, including transport workers and the floating population during this strict lockdown.
BBC presenter Andrew Marr told viewers this morning that he believes he caught a “nasty” bout of Covid at the G7 Summit in Cornwall. Marr revealed he caught the virus despite being doubly vaccinated and believed he caught it while reporting on the meeting of world leaders in Cornwall earlier this month.
Ironically, while in Cornwall for the summit, Marr grilled the Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab on a Public Health England report which found a dozen Brits died from the Delta variant despite having had both their Covid vaccines.
Image by Damien Everett from Southampton, UK – Cropped from Andrew Marr at the BAFTA's, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6679120
In Germany, the proportion of Delta variant infections is growing significantly. In a sample, it almost doubled compared to the previous week to 15.1 percent, according to a report by the Robert Koch Institute (RKI). The information refers to the week from June 7th to 13th.
According to the RKI, Delta has been detected in all federal states in the past four weeks. Information from the reporting system was available for around 1,440 cases during this period, it said. The absolute number of weekly delta cases has increased since the 21st reporting week, from around 270 to around 470 in the 23rd reporting week.
Zeit.de report (in German)
Russian newspapers are still referring to a new “Moscow” strain of Sars-CoV-2, however it seems that the strain may simply be Delta (B.1.617.2).
“A modified Indian [Delta] strain of coronavirus was found in Moscow. This was announced by the head of the Gamaleya Center, Alexander Gintsburg”.
“В Москве нашли измененный индийский штамм коронавируса. Об этом сообщил глава центра имени Гамалеи Александр Гинцбург.” Lenta .ru
But an Interfax report states that “Almost 90% of residents of the capital [Moscow] with coronavirus have an Indian [Delta] strain of the disease, said Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin.
“The latest data that we received is that 89.3% have contracted a mutated coronavirus, the so-called ‘Delta’ is an Indian strain,” the mayor said in an interview with Channel One.
Почти у 90% заболевших коронавирусом жителей столицы выявлен индийский штамм заболевания, сообщил мэр Москвы Сергей Собянин.
“Последние данные, которые мы получили, – 89,3% заболели коронавирусом мутированным, так называемая “дельта” – это индийский штамм”, – сказал мэр в интервью Первому каналу.
Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said that this strain spreads faster and is also more aggressive than others. According to the mayor, in order to resist this disease, the level of antibodies in humans must be twice as high as necessary for the “Wuhan” variant of the coronavirus. “In fact, we are starting to go through this story anew and with more serious consequences.”
An outbreak of the Delta coronavirus variant at the Foothills Medical Centre in Calgary has seen 16 patients and six health-care workers tested positive for the variant. Six of the patients and five of the health-care workers had received two doses of the vaccine, while seven patients and one health-care worker had a single dose. The total vaccine breakthrough rate is 81.82%. All of those infected were vaccinated with an mRNA vaccine.
Some 10-12 percent of the COVID-19 patients in the latest COVID-19 outbreak in Guangzhou are critically ill, Guan Xiangdong, a specialist in the Guangdong COVID-19 medical team, told media on Thursday. The proportion is higher than in the epidemic in Wuhan, and the following 20 regional clusters that took place across China, in which the proportion was usually 2-3 percent, 5-8 percent or “8-10 percent in a few areas,” Guan said to China Central Television (CCTV) on Thursday.
The relatively high proportion of severe and critically ill cases was probably caused by the highly pathogenic viral strains that spread in this wave of the epidemic in Guangzhou, Guan said.
“On the 17 May 2021, the UK government removed the requirement for face coverings in secondary schools in England. Writing in The BMJ on 14 May 2021, we argued that this was ill advised given the clear evidence for the role of children and schools in transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and the rise of the new variant, subsequently designated as delta, which was already implicated in school outbreaks at the time.
There has been a lack of transparency from Public Health England (PHE) around the spread of the delta variant in schools. On 22 May, an article in The Observer reported that these data had been withheld by PHE at the request of 10 Downing Street. On 31 May 2021, The Citizens, a group promoting accountability in public life, and the data rights firm AWO sent a pre-action letter warning that they would seek judicial review unless PHE published the data on the grounds they it had acted “unlawfully” by withholding data on the spread of the variant in schools, and had “surrendered its independent judgement.”
Concerningly, even now, PHE has failed to release the full data. In a detailed technical report released on the 3 June, it only provided data on the number of “incidents” or outbreaks involving two or more students in schools. It did not provide numbers of delta variant cases linked to schools, which had been specifically and repeatedly requested by unions and scientists, and specified in the pre-action letter. Despite including several complex analyses, the 66-page report presented no breakdown of cases by age group. However, even the limited data provided on school outbreaks raises concerns. According to the report, 140 outbreaks of the delta variant had been identified in educational settings up to 30 May, the largest number in any of the settings specified. The data on “common exposures” (defined as two or more infected children with sequenced virus) for the week ending 11 May, just prior to dropping recommendations for masks in schools, showed that there were over 1000 common exposures for children infected with the delta variant in educational settings. Additionally, data from PHE and Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed that the highest overall infection rates were among secondary school age children.
PHE has continued to put out contradictory claims. Just a day after reporting that infection rates were currently highest in 10-19 year olds, it claimed that cases among school-age children were low. This contradicted other ONS data released the same day that showed rapid rises in prevalence in this age group, with this now being much higher than all other groups. A day later the health secretary Matt Hancock stated that a “huge proportion of latest cases are in children.” This is reminiscent of messaging by the government from autumn and winter 2020 where the mantra “schools are safe” was used repeatedly to rationalise the lack of mitigations in schools, right up to the point they were closed on 5 January (following a day when many schools reopened briefly). At that point the Boris Johnson, the UK prime minister described them as “vectors for transmission, causing the virus to spread between households.”
Back to the present, the government has finally acknowledged the high rates of infection and transmission in children. As with its many previous errors, there is no acknowledgement that it has not followed advice from its own advisors. The government has left children, staff, and communities exposed to rapid spread of a new and more transmissible variant, and at risk of long covid. Yet, even as we see absenteeism related to covid-19 rising in schools, with 31% children absent from secondary schools in Bolton, the government’s messaging remains focussed on rapid tests. This is despite dropping uptake over time, and clear evidence that tests alone have not been able to contain spread in schools. Even after acknowledging the risks of infection and transmission in children, there is still no emphasis on urgent mitigations, including masks and ventilation, that are vital if schools are to remain open. While we welcome the health secretary’s announcement that children may be eligible to be vaccinated in August this does not help right now. According to SAGE modelling, the current wave is expected to peak in late July. By that time thousands of children and their family members will have been affected.
Data from Bolton, and several other places, where the delta variant gained dominance suggested early on that infection spread first among school age children, and then to other age groups. It is likely that lack of mitigations in schools played an important role in this highly transmissible, more virulent, escape variant gaining dominance rapidly across England. Spread of the delta variant is likely to have played an important role in the exponential rises we are seeing of cases in England, and hospitalisations in North West England.
During the current crisis the focus on the Stage 4 re-opening on the 21 June by government and media detracts from actions that need to be taken immediately to pre-empt the potentially devastating impact of a third wave. Our concern here has been with the actions that must be taken in schools to keep our children safe.
First, we must reintroduce masks both at primary and secondary levels and both in classrooms and communal areas. Unions have jointly called for an immediate re-introduction of masks in secondary schools and several local authorities have already reinstated these. This needs to be incorporated into Department for Education guidance as a recommendation for all schools.
Second, there needs to be central investment in ventilation and air cleaning in schools, including CO2 monitors, and air filtration devices, to supplement ventilation where needed. Risk can also be reduced by moving to learning outdoors, where possible, including physical education activities.
Third, there must be practical, financial, and remote learning support for families with children who are isolating. And lastly, the Government must provide adequate catch-up resources for children who have lost out on education over the past year, to bridge gaps and worsening inequities in education.
In sum, schools are the place where infections are rising fastest. Yet schools are a place where the basic mitigations of face coverings, space, and fresh air are not simply missing, but—in the case of masks—have actually just been removed. This makes no sense. The government must act urgently to protect and support its children at this critical juncture.”
Deepti Gurdasani, senior lecturer in machine learning, Queen Mary University of London.
Hisham Ziauddeen, consultant psychiatrist, Cambridge and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust, UK.
Stephen Reicher, professor, School of Psychology and Neuroscience, University of St. Andrews. Member of Independent SAGE and the advisory group to the Scottish chief medical officer.
Martin McKee, professor of European public health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Member of Independent SAGE.
— Corona Heads Up (@CoronaHeadsUp) March 15, 2020
Shown above, the UK 2nd coronavirus wave, from September 6th to October 2nd 2020.
The Alpha variant (B.1.1.7) took about 26 days to infect around 90 people per million
Shown below, the UK 3rd coronavirus wave, from May 24th to June 10th 2021.
The Delta variant (B.1.617.2) has taken about 16 days to infect around 90 people per million, despite the massive UK vaccination campaign
And this is what happened after October 2nd 2020 with the Alpha variant:
Just one month later, on the 5th November 2020, Britain went into its second national lockdown. “England’s four-week lockdown will make a ‘real impact’, the prime minister says at a news briefing”
** Coming soon ** 15 months of unrelenting censorship of this blog and our Twitter feed. Don’t miss it!
If the previous waves of Sars-CoV-2 in the UK are anything to go by, Britain is less than one week away from the B16172 Delta variant exploding into another full-blown national health crisis. The country’s current coronavirus case rate is roughly the same as it was on the 26th September 2020. Just five days later, on October 1st, the third wave of infections moved into a different gear entirely, swamping hospitals and causing thousands of deaths.
It’s time to plan for the worst and hope for the best.
Sticking with a football theme, it's definitely not bending like Beckham, but it's another day of slightly less steep rise at least. (10 day doubling is still pretty unpleasant of course) pic.twitter.com/y1CnOQFfkt
— Oliver Johnson (@BristOliver) June 13, 2021
Highest point estimate yet (and the case figure to drop in for tomorrow is already 5,984). You don't really want to look where the straight line ends up by early July. pic.twitter.com/DYJ0NChOTr
— Oliver Johnson (@BristOliver) June 9, 2021
10th June 2021:
“The pressure to treat Covid-19 patients is too large and too heavy”. More than 6,000 Covid patients are being treated at 107 medical facilities [in Vietnam], of which 37 are critical and 11 are ECMO interventions, putting pressure on the treatment system.
According to the Subcommittee on Treatment, the Ministry of Health, by the afternoon of June 9, more than 6,000 Covid-19 cases were being treated, the largest number of patients ever, of which more than half were in Bac Giang with more than 4,000 cases. Next is Bac Ninh, Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi.
Among the patients, 97 had severe prognosis, 125 severe cases required oxygen, 43 severe cases required non-invasive ventilation, 26 critical cases required invasive ventilation; and 11 critical cases requiring ECMO (extracorporeal circulation).
VNExpress.com report (in Vietnamese)
Finland’s PPE guidance for healthcare workers (HCW) has been updated following the Kanta-Häme hospital Delta variant outbreak. “The use of FFP2/3 respirators in all patient contacts with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 patients is recommended.”
“Generally, HCWs have a higher risk of contracting a COVID-19 infection compared to the general population. Despite the high exposure to SARS-CoV-2, none of the ICU workers got a clear occupational COVID-19 infection, whereas working in a cohort COVID-19 ward or a normal ward with COVID-19 patients seems to have a high-risk association for occupational COVID-19 infections.
All ICU workers and most laboratory workers used FFP2/3 respirators and aerosol precautions when working with COVID-19 patients, whereas the PPE used in the wards followed droplet precautions with surgical masks. Notably, 29.3% of the infections were from colleagues, thus also requiring special attention for social distances and infection control measures between co-workers.
As practical implications, the use of FFP2/3 respirators in all patient contacts with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 patients is recommended.
Also, as a high number of COVID-19 infections and exposures among HCWs are from colleagues, the authors recommend the use of universal masking during the shift, also in personnel rooms. Safety distances and other means of infection control in the hospital environment need more research and implementation in the workplace to ensure HCWs’ safety during pandemics.
Finland research paper: Sources of Healthcare worker’s Covid-19 infections and related safety guidlines