People who contract the delta variant of the coronavirus are twice as likely to be hospitalized as those who contract the original strain, according to a study published in The Lancet on Friday.
Researchers in the United Kingdom evaluated patients with COVID-19 in England between March 29 and May 23. Of those patients, 8,682 were infected with the delta variant and 34,656 were infected with the original strain.
Most of the patients in the study, 74 percent, were unvaccinated.
Of the patients with the delta variant, 2.3 percent were admitted to the hospital, compared to 2.2 percent of those with the original strain within 14 days of testing positive
But accounting for certain factors that contribute to the risk of hospitalization such as age, sex, recent travel and vaccination status, the delta variant was associated with a 2.26-fold increased risk of hospitalization over the original variant. The delta variant was also responsible for a 1.45-fold increased risk of requiring emergency care.
Anne Presanis, one of the study’s authors, said in a statement that getting vaccinated is crucial for reducing the risk of symptomatic infection with delta.
“Our analysis highlights that in the absence of vaccination, any delta outbreaks will impose a greater burden on healthcare than an alpha epidemic,” Presanis said, according to Bloomberg. “Getting fully vaccinated is crucial for reducing an individual’s risk of symptomatic infection with delta.”
The delta variant has become the dominant strain of COVID-19 in many countries, including the U.S.
A separate study in Scotland published in June also found that the delta variant is linked to an increased likelihood of hospitalization.