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Exponential growth, high prevalence of SARS-CoV-2, and vaccine effectiveness associated with the Delta variant.

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Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infections were rising during early summer 2021 in many countries as a result of the Delta variant. We assessed reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction swab positivity in the Real-time Assessment of Community Transmission–1 (REACT-1) study in England. During June and July 2021, we observed sustained exponential growth with an average doubling time of 25 days, driven by complete replacement of the Alpha variant by Delta and by high prevalence at younger, less-vaccinated ages. Prevalence among unvaccinated people [1.21% (95% credible interval 1.03%, 1.41%)] was three times that among double-vaccinated people [0.40% (95% credible interval 0.34%, 0.48%)]. However, after adjusting for age and other variables, vaccine effectiveness for double-vaccinated people was estimated at between ~50% and ~60% during this period in England. Increased social mixing in the presence of Delta had the potential to generate sustained growth in infections, even at high levels of vaccination.



Adolescent, Adult, Age Factors, Aged, COVID-19, COVID-19 Nucleic Acid Testing, COVID-19 Vaccines, Child, Child, Preschool, England, Ethnicity, Family Characteristics, Female, Hospitalization, Humans, Male, Middle Aged, Prevalence, SARS-CoV-2, Self Report, Socioeconomic Factors, Vaccination Coverage, Vaccine Efficacy, Young Adult

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American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
MRC (MC_PC_19027)
UK Research and Innovation (MC_PC_19027)
The study was funded by the Department of Health and Social Care in England. Sequencing was provided through funding from the COVID-19 Genomics UK (COG-UK) Consortium. P.E. is Director of the Medical Research Council (MRC) Centre for Environment and Health (MR/L01341X/1, MR/S019669/1). P.E. acknowledges support from Health Data Research UK (HDR UK); the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Imperial Biomedical Research Centre; NIHR Health Protection Research Units (HPRUs) in Chemical and Radiation Threats and Hazards, and Environmental Exposures and Health; the British Heart Foundation Centre for Research Excellence at Imperial College London (RE/18/4/34215); and the UK Dementia Research Institute at Imperial (MC_PC_17114). S.R., C.A.D. acknowledge support: MRC Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis, NIHR HPRU in Modelling and Health Economics, Wellcome Trust (200861/Z/16/Z, 200187/Z/15/Z), and Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (US, U01CK0005-01-02). G.C. is supported by an NIHR Professorship. H.War. acknowledges support from an NIHR Senior Investigator Award and the Wellcome Trust (205456/Z/16/Z). We thank The Huo Family Foundation for their support of our work on COVID-19. Quadram authors gratefully acknowledge the support of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC); their research was funded by the BBSRC Institute Strategic Programme Microbes in the Food Chain BB/R012504/1 and its constituent project BBS/E/F/000PR10352. We thank members of the COVID-19 Genomics Consortium UK (COG-UK) for their contributions to generating the genomic data used in this study. COG-UK is supported by funding from the MRC, part of UK Research & Innovation (UKRI), NIHR and Genome Research Limited, operating as the Wellcome Sanger Institute.