R rate in England as high as high as 2.5 sparking 3rd wave fears

THE R rate in parts of England is as high as 2.5 due to the Delta variant first seen in India, “Prof Lockdown” has warned.

Prof Neil Ferguson, whose modelling scared the Government into the first lockdown, said the best guess is Delta is 60 per cent more transmissible.

That’s compared to the Alpha (Kent) variant which is no longer dominant due to the new, rapidly spreading Delta strain.

Prof Ferguson, Director of the MRC Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis, Imperial College London, said cases of the Delta variant were doubling within less than a week – a rate similar to the Alpha strain just before Christmas.

He also revealed ministers were warned last week of a “substantial third wave” in the UK.

The updated modells from scientists reporting to Sage – the Government scientific advisory group – are bound to be considered as the PM decides whether to go ahead with the June 21 unlocking.

Prof Ferguson told journalists in a virtual briefing: “I think I said last week we have evidence the Delta had something between a 30 and 100 per cent transmission advantage over the Alpha variant. 

“That’s firmed up. We think 60 per cent is about the best estimate, but ranging between 40 and 80 per cent advantage.