Delta COVID-19 variant doubles risk of hospitalization compared to Alpha strain, Scottish study finds

A study outside Scotland found that the Delta COVID-19 variant carries double the risk of hospitalization compared to the Alpha strain, especially in patients with five or more comorbidities. Scotland had determined that the Delta variant had become the dominant variety in the country about a month ago.

Using the country’s COVID-19 surveillance program, researchers on behalf of Public Health Scotland analyzed the data to investigate the risk of hospitalization and estimate the effectiveness of vaccination in preventing hospitalizations among probable cases Delta variant. The study was published Monday in The Lancet.

During the study period, which ran from April 1 to June 6, 2021, there were 19,543 cases of coronavirus, of which 377 required hospitalization. Of these hospitalizations, 134 cases were positive for the S gene. In an earlier analysis, researchers determined that 97% of the S gene positive cases sequenced in Scotland were the Delta variant and 99% of the Delta variants were positive for the S gene. S gene. S gene negative cases were classified as alpha variant infections.


In the data, the researchers noted that positive cases for the S gene occurred at all ages, but more in young children than compared to the Alpha variant. They also found that cases positive for the S gene were associated with an increased risk of hospitalization for COVID-19 compared to cases negative for the S gene, and that a greater number of relevant comorbidities increased the risk.

AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine have been shown to reduce the risk of infection and hospitalization due to the Delta variant, but protection against infection has decreased compared to the Alpha variant.

However, the researchers noted that the analysis was observational in nature and that estimates of vaccine effectiveness “should be interpreted with caution.” They also said there were not enough numbers of inpatient admissions and variants “to compare vaccines in this regard.”


“In summary, we show that the Delta VOC in Scotland was found mainly in younger and better-off groups,” the researchers wrote. “The risk of COVID-19 hospital admission was approximately doubled in those with Delta VOC compared to Alpha VOC, with a particularly increased risk of admission in those with five or more relevant comorbidities.”

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