ECDC warns Delta variant to become 90% prevalent in EU by end-August

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PARIS (Reuters) - The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said on Wednesday the more contagious Delta variant of COVID-19, first identified in India, will represent 90% of all SARS-CoV-2 viruses circulating in the European Union by the end of August.

The announcement echoed a similar warning by the World Heath Organization last week which said the variant was becoming dominant globally.

Because of its increased transmissability, the Delta variant is a matter of concern for many governments across Europe as most countries are easing restrictions in the wake of an overall fall in new COVID-19 cases.

In response to the surge in cases of Delta in Britain however, authorities are aiming to accelerate vaccination plans to give every adult a first COVID-19 vaccine by July 19, the new date at which COVID restrictions are to be lifted in England.

"It is very likely that the Delta variant will circulate extensively during the summer, particularly among younger individuals that are not targeted for vaccination," the ECDC said.

"This could cause a risk for the more vulnerable individuals to be infected and experience severe illness and death if they are not fully vaccinated."

But the ECDC said two doses of an approved COVID-19 vaccine offered "high protection" against the variant and its consequences.

Last week, an analysis by the Public Health England (PHE) showed that vaccines made by Pfizer Inc and AstraZeneca provided protection of more than 90% against hospitalization from the Delta variant.

(Reporting by Matthias Blamont; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

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