[ Question ]

What's the effective R for the Delta variant of COVID-19?

by ChristianKl1 min read2nd Jul 20216 comments



I have the impression that R for COVID-19 overall matters at the moment relatively little. What's matters is the R for the Delta variant. When Googling I can't find any such data for the US, the UK or any European state. I'm not sure whether this is due to incompetence or malice of authorities, but anyway, does someone have a good source or did the analysis themselves?

(extra points for the R of Delta plus which does have another spike protein mutation and thus vaccine antibodies are going to bind less well)

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The UK has had >98% Delta variant cases for a while and R used to be at 1.1-1.4 for the last few weeks. During that time, vaccinations went up to 85% of adults single-vaccinated and 63% double-vaccinated. Masks are still mandatory indoors except for when you're eating (and that's allowed again, socially distanced); gatherings of >6 people may still be prohibited (but I'm not totally sure, and there are definitely increasingly more exceptions, such as with outdoor weddings).  Government has been talking about getting rid of 100% of the rules and restrictions on July 19th, but maybe they'll decide to keep very minor ones. Right now about 0.5% of the UK population are infectious based on estimates by the Zoe symptoms app.

The most relevant UK COVID policy (see full guidelines here):

Indoors gatherings are up to 6 people, outdoor gatherings are up to 30. The government is also distributing free lateral flow tests to everyone, though I'm not sure how high uptake is (I have seen very little marketing about this :( ). People are mostly still working from home, though some offices are slowly re-opening. Schools and universities are fully open.

85% being single vaccinated is a lot more then I would have expected. Is the antivax community relatively weak in the UK?

Vaccine hesitancy is surprisingly low in the UK (as a UK resident, I highly approve). See Our World In Data. Possible factors are that the NHS is trusted and popular, and our regulators have been generally more competent and a bit less risk averse (eg only pausing AstraZeneca for under 40s)

Vaccine hesitancy is surprisingly low in the UK

Surprising compared to what? Creationism, AGW denial, etc, are also low.

Compared to the baseline of the US and Europe, as shown in the OWID source I linked