Covid R rate ‘could rise to as high as 7 if Delta variant runs riot’

The Delta variant’s reproduction (R) rate could reach seven if it was left unchecked, a scientist has warned.

Prof Susan Hopkins, from Public Health England, told the science and technology committee: ‘We’re seeing much greater transmissibility than Alpha, which had greater transmissibility than the viruses that had gone before unmitigated.

‘So if we were in the real world where we had none of the measures that we are seeing right now, we would estimate R greater than five and maybe up to seven. That’s why we need people to have vaccination because that’s a clear mitigation measure.’

The UK has the highest rate of new Covid infections in Europe, with 9,055 cases reported yesterday, along with nine Covid-related deaths.

Prof Hopkins said, while 7,000 to 8,000 cases were being detected daily, the true rate was probably double.

But she said due to vaccines ‘what we won’t see — or what I hope we won’t see — is the hospitalisation rate’.

Five areas with the biggest week-on-week rise in cases:

Ribble Valley (up from 271.0 cases per 100,000 people to 466.4)

Hyndburn (286.3 to 452.8)

Pendle (168.3 to 326.8)

Warrington (60.9 to 160.5)

Blackpool (110.4 to 209.4)

Care-home staff in England are to be required to have Covid jabs ‘to protect residents’ — with the same measure being considered for NHS workers.

‘We know that the vaccine not only protects you but protects those around you,’ said health secretary Matt Hancock as he announced the rule in the Commons yesterday.

But the GMB union claimed more than a third of carers would consider leaving their jobs if vaccinations were compulsory.

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