Professor Sir Peter Horby told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show that modelling of the Delta variant suggests a more transmissible strain than the Alpha, or Kent, variant and that it will be difficult to control. He believes we will soon see it spreading across Europe.
Asked if the Delta variant’s spread in the UK was due to not having strong enough border measures earlier, Prof Horby said: “It’s clear that the Delta variant started to transmit within the UK because of introductions from other countries.
“So I think there is a case to be said that that did happen and stronger border measures may have delayed that, may even have prevented it.
“But there is an obvious trade-off that policymakers and politicians have to make between absolute complete restrictions and stopping various viruses coming in.”
The variant now makes up more than 90 per cent of cases in England and is estimated by Public Health England (PHE) to be 64 per cent more transmissible than the Alpha variant indoors.
Official estimates suggest that around 20,000 passengers who could have been infected with the Delta variant between early April and 23 April, when India was put on the red list.
Prof Horby’s verdict comes just weeks after Labour shadow home secretary, Nick Thomas-Symonds, dubbed the Delta variant the “Johnson variant” and accused the government’s “unforgivable recklessness” with its approach to border protections.
Mr Thomas-Symonds said: “They have allowed the Delta variant, first identified in India to take hold here. Let’s call it what it is – let’s put the blame where it should lie. In this country – it’s the Johnson variant.”