How Hawaii’s rental car crisis became so dire tourists are renting U-Hauls instead

Hana Highway, Hawaii.
The Hana Highway in Hawaii.

  • Hawaii is currently stuck in a glaring rental-car nightmare as Americans start to travel again.
  • Rental vehicle prices are skyrocketing, and some tourists have turned to booking U-Hauls instead.
  • Take a look at how the Aloha State found itself in such a dire situation, and how you can avoid it.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Take a look at Hawaii’s rental car industry right now and you might see something quite peculiar.

Booked out rental cars. Vehicles renting for $700 a day. Tourists driving fleets of U-Haul vans instead. The state asking tourists to book rental cars before making any other vacation plans.

Hawaii’s islands are in the middle of a glaring rental-car nightmare. And now, renting a vehicle – in the Aloha State and other parts of the US – could consume the bulk of tourists’ vacation costs.

“People are quickly realizing that they need to take the cost of the rental car into account because it’s no longer just an add-on,” Jonathan Weinberg, the founder and CEO of AutoSlash, told Insider in April. “It literally could be the majority cost of your trip, so folks who are planning things last minute are unpleasantly surprised by it.”

So how did the Aloha State get here? The answer lies within computer chips, COVID-19, auctions, and “revenge vacations.”

How it started

hertz
A Hertz office in New Jersey in May 2020.

To understand how the national rental car shortage has impacted Hawaii, let’s go back in time to mid-2020.

As we all now know, the COVID-19 pandemic devastated the majority of the travel industry, including the rental car companies.

In the midst of the pandemic, companies like Hertz – which later filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection – and Avis sold off chunks of their rental-car fleets. At the time, this decision may have helped save cash, but it’s now, unsurprisingly, at the root of this massive rental vehicle shortage.

On top of this, companies are now struggling to regrow fleet sizes as a result of shockingly high used car prices and a lack of new cars due to the global computer chip shortage. Companies like Hertz have evn to turned to “supplementing fleets by purchasing low-mileage, pre-owned vehicles from a variety of channels including auctions, online auctions, dealerships, and cars coming off lease programs,” a spokesperson told Insider in May.

But while rental car companies are scrambling to rebuild fleets, travel is beginning to skyrocket again.

“When we look at our travel numbers, travel bookings in May were 95% of where they were in May of 2019,” Steve Squeri, American Express CEO, told CNBC’s Jim Cramer on “Mad Money” on Monday.

Hawaii specifically has seen a massive rebound in travel, and more people are now traveling to the state than before COVID-19, KITV, an ABC affiliate in Hawaii, reported on June 14. In the week preceding the report, 36,000 people on average traveled in and around the islands every day, according to KITV. To compare, in June 2019, the average was 34,000 people.

And as you can probably tell, this skyrocketing number of travelers is now compounding the rental-car shortage.

A look at Hawaii’s dire shortage, and how you can avoid it

hawaii coronavirus caution tape
Caution tape at Hawaii’s Waikiki Beach.

Hawaii’s fleet of rental cars dropped by over 40% during COVID-19, the Hawaii Tourism Authority wrote under the “rental car shortage” section of its website.

The average car rental in Hawaii sat at about $50 daily before COVID-19. Now, some vehicles are renting at highs of $700 a day, or over two-times 2019’s prices, Chris Woronka, a senior hotel-and-leisure analyst at Deutsche Bank, told Insider in April.

As a result, some tourists have turned to renting U-Haul moving pickup trucks and cargo vans instead.

“We have seen a considerable uptick in U-Haul rentals from customers who are visiting the islands now,” Kaleo Alau, U-Haul Company in Hawaii’s president, told Insider in an email statement in April. “We realize this demand is occurring when tourists are unable to secure a rental car, or they learn that our rental fleet options are more affordable.”

Renting moving vehicles may be a quick fix for tourists, but this unusual and outside demand for U-Hauls has left some offices with less equipment for locals who may need the vehicles for actual moving purposes.

“We are working every day with our primary customer base – the islands’ residential movers – to ensure we can still meet their transportation needs,” Alau said.

Relying on U-Hauls instead of car-rental companies has become so popular, the state’s tourism agency has now had to address the issue on its website.

“The Hawaii Tourism Authority does not condone visitors renting moving trucks and vans for leisure purposes,” the agency wrote.

If you want a rental car for your upcoming “revenge vacation” in the tropical state, but don’t want to pay a few hundred dollars per day, follow the state and experts’ advice: plan in advance.

“Rental cars are in high demand, so please plan ahead to secure a reservation first before making the rest of your travel arrangements,” the agency wrote.

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China’s COVID-19 vaccines are being called into question after infections surged in countries using Chinese shots

People walking on a commercial street in Seychelles wearing masks
Pedestrians wear masks as they walk on a street in the capital Victoria, Mahe Island, Seychelles Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021.

  • Two Chinese shots have been welcomed by vaccine-deprived lower-income countries.
  • But in some, cases of COVID-19 are surging even after widespread vaccination.
  • In response, observers are questioning how well the shots work, angering China.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

By March, the Seychelles was one of the world’s most vaccinated countries. With over half of its population fully inoculated from COVID-19, the island nation off Africa was outpacing even Israel.

This speedy rollout was largely thanks to China – imports of its Sinopharm shot made up 57% of all doses delivered there.

So when the Seychelles saw a sharp rise in virus cases in mid-May, despite some 60% of the population being fully vaccinated, that came as a surprise.

Later the surprise deepened as health officials confirmed, on May 10, that more than one third of Seychelles residents to fall sick had indeed already taken their vaccines.

Since then, more countries that use Chinese vaccines have been seeing rises in cases, prompting a reckoning for China as experts reassess the effectiveness of its widespread shots.

Vaccines exported to 95 countries worldwide

While Europe and the US were hoarding the Western-made AstraZeneca, Moderna, and Pfizer vaccines, China distributed its jabs widely. It was a lifeline for lower-income countries that had little hope of securing American or European jabs.

China’s two flagship vaccines, made by biotech companies Sinovac and Sinopharm, quickly became a soft power tool in China’s foreign policy.

According to the Beijing-based Bridge Consultancy, 95 countries have received doses of the Chinese vaccines. Out of almost 800 million doses promised by China, 272 million had been delivered as of mid-June.

Nurses wearing masks walk towards a doorway, on the wall, a poster or a man is holding a vial of COVID-19 vaccine.
Nurses prepare syringes of Chinese a Sinopharm vaccine, in Bahrain on December 19, 2020.

It is not only the Seychelles. Two other countries which are highly vaccinated and rely heavily on the Sinopharm BBIB-P vaccine – Bahrain and Mongolia – have also seen a spike in cases.

Both countries have said they still trust the vaccines. Bahrain’s undersecretary of health said that more than 90% of those hospitalized there were not vaccinated.

A policy adviser to the Mongolian Government told The Daily Telegraph that the spike in cases was due to the end of a lockdown, not problems with the vaccine.

Nonetheless, some are looking to limit exposure to the Chinese shots. Bahrain and the UAE, another early adopter of Sinopharm, have started offering the option of a Pfizer booster shot to those who had been fully vaccinated with the Sinopharm vaccine.

China’s other flagship vaccine, Sinovac’s CoronaVac jab, is also being closely scrutinized.

Santiago, the capital of Chile capital, imposed another lockdown on Saturday, as cases are sharply rising in spite of almost 60% of the country being fully immunized. Chile’s vaccination program uses mostly Sinovac shots.

Variants probably have a role to play in the surge, Dr Susan Bueno, a professor of immunology from the Pontifical Catholic University, previously told the BBC. Even so, variants are present in Western nations without so pronounced an effect.

The vaccines are protective against severe disease, but maybe not against infection and mild disease

“You really need to use high-efficacy vaccines to get that economic benefit because otherwise they’re going to be living with the disease long term,” Raina MacIntyre, head of the biosecurity program at the Kirby Institute of the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, told The New York Times for a recent article.

“The choice of vaccine matters.”

If the vaccine is not protective against transmission of the virus, the countries might not be able to reach the elusive state of herd immunity, when enough people in the population are protected to stop the virus from spreading.

Israel seems to have recently passed that threshold. Earlier this month, when 60% of the country’s population was fully vaccinated, cases dropped to about 15 a day, and are now hovering around zero. Israel used Western shots.

An expert previously told Insider that Israel’s example suggests that other countries can reach herd immunity with a similar level of immunization.

Whereas Moderna and Pfizer shots are based on new mRNA technology, Sinovac and Sinopharm’s vaccines use an inactivated virus in their shot. This is an older vaccine technology, used successfully in other diseases for decades.

Both Chinese shots have been given emergency use authorization by the WHO within the past six weeks.

According to published data, Sinopharm’s vaccine is 79% effective at stopping symptomatic COVID-19. But there are caveats to that study, as it is based on a cohort of people under 60, mostly men, and on average pretty young, around 31 years old. Most serious COVID-19 cases are in far older people.

Looking at the data from the Seychelles, vaccine expert Dr. Kim Mulholland told The New York Times that the Sinopharm vaccine’s efficacy was closer to about 50%.

This would be consistent with the protection seen with the Sinovac vaccine. The WHO says this shot gives 50.6% against symptomatic disease, based on data from a large study in Brazil.

By comparison, Pfizer and Moderna shots confer over 90% protection.

China does not hide that its vaccines probably don’t give comprehensive protection from COVID-19.

In an interview with state-owned Chinese National Business Daily published on June 7, Shao Yiming, Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention expert, said the Chinese vaccines available in China are designed to prevent severe illness, not all infections.

Nonetheless, China has been aggressive with media outlets which have highlighted concerns about Chinese vaccines overseas.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said such reporting “exposes their unhealthy mindset of denigrating China at every turn,” The Wall Street Journal reported.

Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying holds briefing
Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying holds a weekly press briefing in Beijing on March 21, 2018.

Could the problem harm China itself?

If the vaccines turn out to not be able to prevent outbreaks, that could be a problem for China, which after the initial wave of infections in early 2020 has largely suppressed outbreaks with swift and severe lockdowns.

The country has approved four vaccines, all made in China, three of which are based on the inactivated virus, and one, designed by CanSino Biologics, which uses a technology similar to AstraZeneca.

Over 600 million people have been vaccinated. Although it is not known how many doses of each vaccine have been used, it is likely that Sinovac’s CoronaVac and Sinopharm’s first vaccine make up the majority, since they were approved first.

Outbreaks of the Delta variant of the coronavirus may also complicate the situation in China. Studies from the UK suggest this variant is more likely to be able to escape even the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines.

In May, Yiming, China’s CDC researcher, said that the vaccines can provide protection against the variants first found in India “to a certain extent”, although he did not say which vaccines, and did not release data to support this statement.

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Royal Caribbean postpones cruise after 8 crew members on board test positive for COVID-19

The Royal Caribbean’s Odyssey of The Seas arrives at Port Everglades on June 10, 2021 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
The Royal Caribbean’s Odyssey of The Seas arrives at Port Everglades on June 10, 2021 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

  • 8 crew members aboard Royal Caribbean’s Odyssey of the Seas tested positive for COVID-19.
  • The ship’s inaugural sail was delayed from July 3 to July 31 because of the COVID-19 cases.
  • Royal Caribbean’s CEO said all 1,400 crew members will be fully vaccinated by June 18.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Royal Caribbean International is delaying its first passenger cruise on the Odyssey of the Seas cruise ship after eight members of the crew tested positive for COVID-19, the agency’s CEO said in a statement on Facebook.

The ship was supposed to set sail on July 3, but will now set sail on July 31.

“The eight crew members, six of whom are asymptomatic and two with mild symptoms, were quarantined and are being closely monitored by our medical team,” Royal Caribbean International CEO Michael Bayley said. “To protect the remaining crew and prevent any further cases, we will have all crew quarantined for 14 days and continue with our routine testing.”

Baley said that all 1,400 crew members aboard the Odyssey were vaccinated by June 4, and are expected to be considered fully vaccinated by June 18.

The announcement of the ship’s delayed sail comes days after two passengers aboard a 95% vaccinated cruise ship tested positive for COVID-19.

The cases were on the Celebrity Millennium, which is operated by the Royal Caribbean Group.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

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Oman reports new cases of black fungus in COVID-19 patients following ‘epidemic’ of the infection in India

Omani healthcare worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex in Oman's capital Muscat on June 8, 2021.
Omani healthcare worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex in Oman’s capital Muscat on June 8, 2021.

  • Mucorymycosis has been seen in patients with particularly severe cases of COVID-19.
  • The fungal infection has a high mortality rate, requiring the removal of infected tissue.
  • Doctors in Oman have encountered at least three COVID-19 patients with “black fungus,” the AP said.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Doctors in Oman, a small nation on the Arabian Peninsula, have encountered at least three COVID-19 patients with “black fungus,” the Associated Press reported Tuesday.

The fungal infection, known as mucorymycosis, can be fatal. The news comes as Oman faces a surge in coronavirus cases brought about, in part, by the fact that more than 90% of its population has not yet been vaccinated, according to the AP report.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people with severe cases of COVID-19 “are particularly vulnerable to bacterial and fungal infections.” The use of “high-dose corticosteroids and tocilizumab,” a monoclonal antibody, can also predispose patients to infection from fungal spores.

Signs of infection include black lesions on the nose or inside the mouth, according to the CDC.

The problem of black fungus has been particularly acute in India, where several states have declared it an epidemic amid the spread of a coronavirus variant officially known as B.1.617, but more recently renamed Delta, that appears to be more contagious than the original. As Insider has reported, black fungus has a 50% mortality rate “and requires all infected tissues to be removed for patients to have a fighting chance.”

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A ‘supertaster’ gene that makes people more sensitive to bitter flavors may also help protect against COVID-19

tongue
  • The T2R38 gene makes people more sensitive to bitter tastes and also enhances immune function.
  • It has been linked to stronger immunity against infections. Research suggests that includes COVID-19.
  • “Supertasters” with two copies of the gene may be less likely to get COVID-19 and develop severe illness.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Despite performing countless procedures that increased his risk of exposure to the coronavirus, Dr. Henry P. Barham has not gotten sick yet.

The ear, nose, and throat doctor, who works at Baton Rouge General in Louisiana, was grateful for his luck but baffled as to how he stayed healthy. He and his colleagues all wore protective gear at work, but some of them still got COVID-19, he told the Washington Post.

The answer, according to his research, may lie close to his area of expertise: the nose.

Barham is studying T2R38, the so-called “supertaster” gene which makes people more sensitive to the bitter notes in broccoli, spinach, and coffee.

Those who inherit the gene from both of their parents also have stronger immunity to respiratory and sinus infections – and according to Barham’s latest research, they may be better protected against COVID-19.

The supertaster gene enhances innate immune function

The T2R38 gene arms the body with superior natural defenses against intruders like the coronavirus.

Those who have two copies of the gene typically have extra hairlike filaments, called cilia, in the airway to sweep bugs away. They also produce more mucous membranes to keep invaders out and create nitric oxide to kill the pathogens that get into the body.

All of these layers of immunity help the body fight off infections, so Barham wondered if those who inherit the gene – himself included – might have an innate advantage over COVID-19.

His hunch was supported when his friend got a serious case of COVID-19, but the man’s wife remained healthy. Bahram gave them both a taste test where they rated the bitterness of paper strips from 1 to 10, revealing that his friend was a “nontaster” and his wife was a supertaster.

A person’s supertaster status can predict the severity of COVID-19

Barham went on to test his hypothesis, first in a group of 100 people who previously had COVID-19 and then in nearly 2,000 people who had been exposed but not fallen ill.

He used the same taste test he gave to his friends to classify people as supertasters, tasters, and nontasters. In the second study, a subgroup also submitted spit samples for genetic testing.

The larger study, published in JAMA Network Open last month, revealed that nontasters were more likely to get COVID-19, stay sick for longer, and require hospitalization. Nontasters who got COVID were sick for an average of 23.5 days, compared to 5 days for supertasters.

None of the supertasters who got sick in the study required hospitalization. Overall, the researchers were able to predict how ill a person would get based on their taster status with 94% accuracy.

However, supertasters can get sick too, and the classification system Barham used was inexact. Giving patients a taste test is not a surefire way to determine if the have the T2R38 gene, so more research needs to be done with genetic testing to support the findings.

Still, Barham’s research is a step towards unraveling the mysteries of COVID-19, public health expert Amesh Adalja told the Washington Post, and it could someday be used to help hospital workers make tough decisions about treating patients.

“Immune profiling could be a way to help them make those decisions, but it’s going to take some time to change how people approach this,” Adalja told the Post.

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Americans are traveling and dining almost as much now as before the pandemic, AmEx CEO says

Airport mask coronavirus
A person wearing a mask at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in April 2020.

Americans are dining out and traveling again.

Spending for both are nearing pre-COVID-19 pandemic levels, Steve Squeri, American Express CEO, told CNBC’s Jim Cramer on “Mad Money” on Monday.

Both travel-adjacent companies and restaurants were initially decimated when the COVID-19 pandemic first rippled across the US. But now, mass vaccination efforts, financial aid from the federal government, and improved personal finances – such as an increase in savings and low delinquencies – are pushing the return of both industries, Squeri told CNBC.

“They have the money in the bank, they’re ready to spend it, but what was holding them back was not having a comfort about being able to go out,” Jay Bryson, Wells Fargo’s chief economist, told the New York Times’ Ben Casselman in early April. “We’re getting into a critical mass of people that are feeling comfortable beginning to go out again.”

And it seems like now, the US is hitting this critical mass.

“When we look at our travel numbers, travel bookings in May were 95% of where they were in May of 2019,” said Squeri. This was without international travel.

Almost 2.1 million people traveled on June 13, according to data from the Transportation Security Administration. To compare, about 2.64 million people traveled the same day in 2019.

Read more: Can you work remotely? These 14 cities and towns will pay you up to $20,000 just to move there.

This uptick in travel, which could be foreshadowing an impending summer boom, is already being reflected in niche segments of the industry. For example, a rental car shortage is currently plaguing hot destinations like Hawaii, Florida, Phoenix, and Puerto Rico.

And Thor Industries – a major RV maker that oversees brands like Jayco and Airstream – is “pretty much sold out for the next year,” Thor’s president and CEO Bob Martin told CNBC’s Jim Cramer on “Mad Money.”

Squeri believes that by the end of this year, the US will have a “full consumer recovery” in terms of travel. “I think globally, we will probably be about 80% of where we were in 2019,” he said.

Similarly, restaurants are also “doing great,” according to Squeri, and expenses are at roughly 85% of 2019 numbers. He also notes that younger patrons are driving this boost in restaurant spending.

“The people that are really spending at restaurants [are] millennials [at] 130% in April of what they spent back in 2019,” Squeri said. “We believe that that’s going to continue to move forward.”

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Marjorie Taylor Greene apologizes for comparing mask mandates to the Holocaust, insisting she’s ‘very much a normal person’

marjorie taylor greene
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., holds a news conference to apologize for her recent remarks equating mask mandates with the Holocaust in Washington on Monday, June 14, 2021.

  • Greene apologized for her previous comparisons of COVID-19 safety measures to the Holocaust.
  • She opened a news conference on Monday evening by saying: “I’m very much a normal person.”
  • Greene came under fire for comparing the House mask mandate to the horrors suffered by Jews in Nazi Germany.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene on Monday evening publicly apologized for her previous comparisons of COVID-19 mask requirements and vaccination efforts to the horrors suffered by Jews in Nazi Germany.

The Georgia Republican, known for her controversial statements, took a markedly different tone during a solo news conference, starting off by saying: “I always want to remind everyone – I’m very much a normal person.”

“One of the best lessons that my father always taught me was, when you make a mistake, you should own it. And I have made a mistake and it’s really bothered me for a couple of weeks now, and so I definitely want to own it,” she said.

Greene told reporters that she visited the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC, earlier in the day and wanted to make it clear that “there is no comparison to the Holocaust.”

“There are words that I have said, remarks that I’ve made, that I know are offensive. And for that I want to apologize,” she said.

Greene’s apology comes as House Democrats move to censure her after she likened mask mandates and vaccine rules to the persecution of Jews during the Holocaust.

Greene attacked Speaker Nancy Pelosi for keeping the House mask mandate in place although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lifted mask-wearing guidelines indoors for fully vaccinated individuals. Pelosi said that she was following guidance from the Capitol attending physician as vaccination rates in Congress, especially among Republicans, was unknown.

During an interview on a conservative podcast on May 20, Greene said: “You know, we can look back in a time in history where people were told to wear a gold star and they were definitely treated like second-class citizens, so much so that they were put in trains and taken to gas chambers in Nazi Germany. And this is exactly the type of abuse that Nancy Pelosi is talking about.”

She also tweeted at the time that “vaccinated employees get a vaccination logo just like the Nazi’s forced Jewish people to wear a gold star.”

The “gold star” reference, which historians more commonly refer to as a yellow star, was an identifier that Nazi Germany forced Jews to wear.

Several House Democrats swiftly condemned Greene’s language, followed by House Republican leadership. GOP leader Kevin McCarthy called her statements “wrong” and “appalling.”

Greene did not express any regret over her comments at the time, and instead doubled down on them in a series of tweets in which she described Democrats as “reminiscent of the great tyrants of history.”

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Amazon burns through workers so quickly that executives are worried they’ll run out of people to employ, according to new report

Amazon fulfillment center
Inside an Amazon warehouse.

Amazon has been hiring hundreds of thousands of workers for roles in its warehouses, which it calls “fulfillment centers,” but those employees have been quitting almost as fast as they can be hired, according to a huge new report from The New York Times.

Of the over 350,000 new workers it hired between July and October 2020, the report said, many only stayed with the company “just days or weeks.”

Hourly employees had a turnover rate of approximately 150% every year, data reviewed by the Times demonstrated, reportedly leading some Amazon executives to worry about running out of hirable employees in the US.

Amazon went on an extended hiring spree throughout 2020 as it attempted to keep up with a massive spike in demand during coronavirus lockdowns. As Americans increasingly turned to Amazon for everything from toiletries to groceries, the company repeatedly touted major hiring pushes.

By May 2021, Amazon was even offering $1,000 signing bonuses to new employees – partially a symptom of hiring issues employers are facing in a variety of industries, but potentially also a result of Amazon’s remarkably high turnover rate.

One former Amazon manager who oversaw human resources efforts focused on warehouse workers compared the situation with worker churn at Amazon warehouses to the ongoing use of fossil fuels. “We keep using them, even though we know we’re slowly cooking ourselves,” he told the Times.

Amazon representatives didn’t respond to a request for comment as of publishing.

Got a tip? Contact Insider senior correspondent Ben Gilbert via email (bgilbert@insider.com), or Twitter DM (@realbengilbert). We can keep sources anonymous. Use a non-work device to reach out. PR pitches by email only, please.

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Delta virus variant, which took over in the UK and threatens the US, doubles the risk of hospitalization, new data says. But vaccines are still effective.

A health professionals gives a woman wearing a mask a COVID-19 vaccine in the arm in Scotland.
A woman receives a COVID-19 vaccination in Glasgow, Scotland on May 14, 2021.

  • Risk of hospitalization is 85% higher with the Delta variant, new data from the UK shows.
  • The Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines are still highly protective against the disease.
  • But both were less protective against the Delta variant, which is 60% more infectious.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The Delta variant of the coronavirus is linked to an 85% higher risk of hospitalization, according to a new study from part of the UK.

The findings from Scotland were published in the peer-reviewed medical journal The Lancet on Monday.

Around the same time UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson delayed easing final lockdown restrictions for another four weeks, citing concerns about the fast-spreading variant.

This variant, also known to scientists as B.1.617.2, was first identified in India. It is 60% more transmissible than the variant Alpha (B.1.1.7, first seen in the UK), which had been dominant in the UK but was fast supplanted by the Delta variant.

Delta can now be found in 74 countries, and US officials have warned that it could become dominant in the US.

In the UK, the latest data showed that Delta was to blame for more than 90% of new cases.

Last week, Dr. Antony Fauci, the White House chief medical advisor, warned that the Delta variant, then behind 6% of US cases, could become dominant in the US if people don’t get fully vaccinated.

Although the new variant appeared more dangerous, vaccines still help.

Another dataset released by Public Health England the same day showed that vaccines are still effective, albeit to a lesser extent than with earlier variants.

To calculate the increased hospitalization risk, researchers from the University of Edinburgh and Public Health Scotland looked at records from EAVE-II, a surveillance database that tracks COVID-19 cases in Scotland.

The researchers looked at 19,543 confirmed infections, a little fewer than half of which were the Delta variant.

After adjusting for factors such as sex, deprivation, age, and comorbidities, the scientists found that people with the Delta variant were 85% more likely to be hospitalized.

According to the study, the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines provided 79% and 60% protection each, down from 93% and 73% respectively with the previously-widespread Alpha variant.

The authors warned that their data on vaccines was preliminary, and other tests may find different figures.

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The UK is delaying lifting its COVID-19 restrictions by 4 weeks until July 19, Boris Johnson announced

Boris Johnson

Prime Minister Boris Johnson says the UK is delaying lifting COVID-19 restrictions until more people get vaccinated against the virus.

He said at a press briefing on Monday that the restrictions will be in place until at least July 19. The restrictions were due to be lifted on June 21, but reopening has now been pushed back by four weeks.

“By Monday the 19 of July we will aim to have double jabbed two-thirds of the adult population,” Johnson said.

This is a developing story. Please check back for more updates.

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