The UK’s Covid vaccine program and delta surge means it’s now a test case for the world

LONDON — The U.K. has one of the highest Covid-19 vaccination rates in the world, yet it’s seeing a new surge in coronavirus cases largely attributed to the delta variant that first originated in India.

Experts say that close attention is being paid to the latest data out of the U.K. as it could be a bellwether for others. And there is a fear that where the U.K. now treads, others — like the U.S. — could follow.

“All eyes (are) on UK Covid trends,” Kallum Pickering, senior economist and director at Berenberg Bank, said in a note Tuesday.

“With its high vaccination rate but a rising number of daily recorded infections, the UK has turned into the test case for whether mass vaccination against SARS-CoV-2 can bring [an] end to the repeated cycles of lockdowns and other harsh social distancing protocols that have wreaked havoc on the global economy ever since the pandemic struck in early 2019,” he said.

Pickering noted that medical data suggests that the U.K.’s high rate of vaccination has significantly weakened the link between recorded Covid infections and complications from the disease, supporting the bank’s call that “the U.K. can get through the new wave of infections without having to tighten restrictions and thus with only limited economic damage.”

Pickering said the data highlighted that this wave of infections was unlike previous ones with the number of recorded infections rising at a slower pace than during the previous wave, and that there had been no clear rise in deaths despite the rise in cases.

Secondly, he noted that new hospital admissions had increased less than recorded infections — and by much less than during the winter wave.

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