HEALTH officials in Spain have warned that the Delta variant of coronavirus, first identified in India, will become the dominant strain across Spain within a month.

The variant, which is thought to be more transmissible than other recent strains is still not officially recorded as a “variant of concern” (VOC) in Spain but is listed as a “variant of interest”.

Spain’s Health Ministry on Friday published data that showed the Delta variant accounted for less than 1 percent of national new cases, but experts have said delays in sequencing mean it is difficult to know its true spread.

Catalonia’s health chief Josep Maria Argimon said that in the northeastern region around one in five new cases had been found to be of the Delta variant and predicted that it would be the predominant strain within “two to four weeks”.

Clara Prats, a researcher from the computational biology and complex systems group at Catalonia’s Polytechnical University (UPC) said this was the nature of the epidemic. “New variants arrive and when one is more transmissible than the earlier one, it overtakes it,” she told El Pais.

“That is what happened with the Alpha,” she said referring to the variant first identified in Britain where it is known as the ‘Kent variant’.

As of June 14, the Delta variant has been detected in 74 countries, accounted for over 90 per cent of new cases in the United Kingdom, and at least six per cent of total cases in the U.S., with estimates as high as 10 per cent, according to an article published in The Conversation.

The researchers pointed out that “one of the defining features of the Delta variant has been enhanced transmissibility with increases estimated at 40-60 per cent above the Alpha variant.

Early data from Scotland suggested that the risk of hospitalization doubled following infection with Delta (compared to Alpha), especially in those with five or more other health conditions.

Although there was positive news about the effectiveness of vaccines against the Delta variant.

Research from the UK reveals that just one dose of a vaccine reduces hospitalizations and infections from the Delta variants and two-dose immunizations with AstraZeneca or Pfizer reduced hospitalizations by 92 per cent and 96 per cent, respectively.  

Spain is charging ahead with its vaccination programme with 34.7% of the population over 16 years old now fully vaccinated and a further 21.8 percent have already received one dose.

It has just announced plans to vaccinate secondary school children before the start of the school year in September.

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