With the Delta variant of the coronavirus accounting for up to 85% of new cases, children appear to be playing a strong role in transmissions, prompting scientists to make a last-ditch appeal to unvaccinated parents to get their jabs “now, before schools open.”
The sense of urgency is driven by the rapid proliferation of the Delta variant, which in mid-June only accounted for 5% of cases.
“We’ve seen it happen with the British variant, we see it happening more intensely now: Both children and adolescents are now transmitting the virus much more ‘efficiently’ than in the early stages of the pandemic,” said the director of the Microbiology Laboratory at Athens University, Athanasios Tsakris, adding that the main differences in the Delta variant from previous manifestations of SARS-CoV-2 are its high transmissibility and its ability to evade, to some extent, antibodies which would have targeted previous variants.
“Comparative studies of individuals of the same age and with underlying conditions who had not been vaccinated and became ill during previous waves of the pandemic and the current one show that in this wave, which is characterized by the predominance of Delta, the infections are more serious and the need for hospitalization as well as for mechanical breathing support is greater,” he said.
“An unvaccinated person is at greater risk today than they would have been six months or a year ago and, as a result, we are seeing more serious infections in younger adults as well,” he explained to Kathimerini.
He also noted that another dimension of the fourth wave of the pandemic is the significant drop in asymptomatic cases.