As the world looks longingly at a future free of pandemic restrictions, one significant obstacle has cast an ominous shadow over hopes of reopening: the Delta variant.
But does the variant represent a more potent threat? Or merely another challenge on the steady march towards ending the virus?
And what are the implications for foreign and domestic travel?
battleface delved into the data to bring you everything we know about the Delta variant, how we anticipate it’ll affect continuing efforts to restart tourism globally, and what you can do to ensure you stay healthy.
What is the Delta variant?
First identified in India late last year, the variant is a version of Sars-coV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19. Delta, customarily named after the Greek letter of the alphabet by the World Health Organization (WHO), is causing particular concern amongst scientists because it may be more transmissible, cause more severe illness or be resistant to existing vaccines.
To complicate matters, the variant Delta Plus (not its official designation), of which even less is known, has emerged in recent weeks, representing another challenge to scientists trying to understand the risks from new mutations.
Is the Delta variant more dangerous?
The Delta variant appears to be more transmissible than previous mutations and there is also some evidence that it could lead to worse health outcomes for those infected. But because of the lag between hospitalisations and deaths, there is not currently enough data to make conclusive statements on how dangerous it is compared with other variants.
Recent research from Israel, meanwhile, indicates that the Pfizer vaccine may be slightly less effective at preventing infection from Delta as opposed to previous variants.
However, getting vaccinated is still the most important thing you can do to protect yourself and those around you from this or other variants.
Which countries have the Delta variant?
In recent days, the WHO has announced the Delta variant is now the dominant strain in 98 countries. As you’re reading this, expect it to be more.
Delta Plus, meanwhile, has spread to about a dozen countries so far.
Will the Delta variant prevent countries from reopening for tourism?
So far, countries that have escaped relatively unscathed from coronavirus may see cases rising rapidly as the Delta variant becomes the dominant strain. These countries also typically have a lower rate of vaccination than those that experienced earlier surges.
With travel restrictions globally in a state of flux, you can keep up to date using battleface’s interactive travel tool, which allows you to enter your nationality and your destination to find out what rules and restrictions are currently in place.
What can I do to protect myself from the Delta variant?
Although government guidance and rules are constantly shifting, scientists agree that washing your hands regularly, wearing a face mask around other people and getting vaccinated are the best ways of staying safe and preventing the spread of any variants of the virus.
For those planning to travel this year, those steps should be supplemented with adequate travel insurance. battleface provides cover for medical expenses caused by or resulting from Covid-19 for travellers aged 59 or under.