Pointing out that the mutation detected in India is between 40 percent and 60 percent more transmissible than the variant detected in the UK, and is also associated with a higher risk of hospitalisations and deaths, the European agency notes that “those who received only the first dose – from a two-dose vaccination– are less protected against Delta variant infection than against other variants, regardless of vaccine type”.

“However, full vaccination provides almost equivalent protection against the Delta variant,” adds ECDC.

For this reason, the European centre stresses that “complete vaccination of all groups at increased risk of severe covid-19 should be achieved as soon as possible to reduce the risk of hospitalizations and deaths”.

Furthermore, and “in order to achieve maximum protection in the shortest possible time, it is recommended that individuals at higher risk of serious effects of SARS-CoV-2 receive a second dose of vaccine soon after administration of the first dose”, ECDC advises.

And at a time when several European countries apply or are considering relaxing restrictions in time for the summer, ECDC projects that, “in a scenario of a 50 percent gradual reduction of non-pharmaceutical intervention measures by 1 September, the incidence is expected to of SARS-CoV-2 increases in all age groups, with the highest incidence in those under 50 years of age”.

In addition to “accelerating vaccination” to increase immunization coverage, ECDC recommends that EU Member States commit to a “sufficient level” of restrictions to contain community transmission and further improve the “early detection of emerging variants of the SARS-CoV-2".