There is no evidence the emergence of the Delta coronavirus variant is part of a wider plan to force vaccinations on younger people, contrary to suggestions made on social media.
One image shared on Facebook reads: “So they’re saying that the ‘delta variant’ is a covid variant that affects young people aged 12-20. How convenient is that? They want to jab the 12-20 year olds [sic] in September and here comes along a ‘new variant’ out of nowhere that affects that age group lol.” (here).
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the Delta variant of COVID-19, first identified in India, is becoming the globally-dominant variant of the disease (here). It is already reported to be dominant in the United Kingdom (here and here) – and between Feb. 1 and June 21 in England alone the majority of cases were in those under the age of 50 (here).
However, this does not mean the Delta variant has “conveniently” targeted younger populations as some of the social media posts suggest. Such a suggestion misses vital context including the result of vaccination campaigns in older age groups, as well as the level of social contact among young people.
Prof. Geert Molenberghs, a professor of biostatistics at Hasselt University and KU Leuven in Belgium, told Reuters that COVID-19 has had “less and less” of an impact on older generations over the course of 2021 due to vaccine rollouts.
Adding to this, Dr Julii Brainard, a senior research associate at Norwich Medical School, noted that the Delta variant had only become widespread in Britain after most of those over 40 had received “at least one if not two doses of an effective vaccine”.
This is backed up by a Public Health England report which found high levels of protection against symptomatic disease from the Delta variant for individuals fully vaccinated by either the Pfizer or AstraZeneca vaccines (here) (here).
Secondly, factors such as occupation and a larger number of contacts can also affect the spread of the variant (here).
“Every time a wave comes along, we have seen that the virus tends to circulate in younger people and then makes its way up to older age groups,” Molenberghs said. This is expected, he added, as “younger people fortunately have a low burden of disease and typically have a large contact network”.
The emergence of the Delta variant is also not evidence of authorities orchestrating a variant to force vaccinations on younger generations. A similar claim was previously addressed by Reuters here .
Misleading. The Delta variant is not a ploy to force younger generations to get vaccinated. The variant’s prevalence in the young is likely due to high vaccination rates in older age groups, as well as differences in occupation and social contact.
This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact-checking work here .
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.