The United Kingdom government on Friday said the Delta variant of the coronavirus is 60% more transmissible in households than the Alpha variant, first detected in the country’s Kent county.

The Delta variant, also known as the B.1.617.2, was first detected in India and has been linked to a rise in Covid cases in the United Kingdom in the past few weeks.

A report released by the Britain’s health body Public Health England also showed that Covid-19 cases are doubling between every 4.5 and 11.5 days, in different parts of England. Over the last week, total cases of the Delta variant jumped from 29,892 to 42,323 in the UK, the report mentioned, adding that the strain accounted for 96% of new Covid-19 cases in the country.

Daily cases rose to 7,393 on Thursday – a rise in infections not seen since February, according to AFP.

According to the latest estimates, about 96,800 residents of England had Covid-19 in the week ending on June 5 – this is about one in 560 people – compared with 85,600 people, or about one in 640, the week before, according to The Guardian.

“With numbers of Delta variant cases on the rise across the country, vaccination is our best defence,” Jenny Harries, Chief Executive of the UK Health Security Agency said, according to The Guardian. She, however, added that while vaccination reduces the risk of severe disease, it does not eliminate it.

Harries’ comment was backed by data from the report released by the Public Health England. The country recorded 33,206 cases of the Delta variant between February and June 7. Out of them, 1,785 were fully vaccinated, while 7,559 were among those who had received one jab.

On June 3, a research published in the medical journal Lancet had shown that the coronavirus vaccine developed by pharmaceutical company Pfizer is likely to produce 5.8 times lower levels of antibodies against the Delta variant. The Pfizer vaccine is one of the four jabs in use in Britain.

The rise in Delta variant cases may also delay the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions in England scheduled on June 21, Reuters reported. Last week the country’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that while there was no data yet to suggest postponing the lifting of lockdown, he could not commit to the June 21 date either.

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