AMSTERDAM - The Delta variant of the coronavirus, which was first identified in India and is partly blamed for the massive second wave in the country, is gaining ground in the Netherlands. Experts at public health institute RIVM don't expect this variant to cause massive problems here, like it's doing in the United Kingdom, NU.nl reports.
Last week the RIVM's germ surveillance found the Delta or B.1.617.2 variant in 0.5 percent of 1,148 samples tested. This week, after testing 610 samples, this variant was found in 1.1 percent - a share that is 120 percent higher than last week.
For experts at the RIVM, this is indication that the Delta variant is indeed more contagious than the original variant of the coronavirus. The public health institute believes it likely that this variant will continue to gain ground, but doesn't expect it to happen as rapidly as in the UK. Early in May the Delta variant was responsible for a quarter of UK infections. Last week that increased to 91 percent.
The Delta variant spread quickly in the UK partly due to the many direct flights between the country and India. The UK also started relaxing lockdown measures in March, so residents had more contact with one another. The Netherlands has fewer direct flights from India, about seven per week. And only started relaxing lockdown measures on a large scale last month.
The UK's choice of vaccine also played a role. So far, the Covid-19 vaccines in use seem to be less, but sufficiently effective against the Delta variant. "However, the British government made full use of he AstraZeneca vaccine, which offers less protection after one shot with this variant than, for example, the Pfizer vaccine that is used more here," a RIVM spokesperson said to NU.nl.