Delta Plus: What We Know so far about New Covid-19 Variant
Delta Plus is a new mutant version of Delta strain of Covid-19 detected in India. Indian government has warned about the new Covid-19 variant and termed it as “variant of concern”. This has come under focus after reports of some cases detected in India’s Maharashtra and several other states.
According to researchers, this Indian variant of Coronavirus has changed in the second wave of Covid-19 pandemic. The variant, which has been detected for the first time in Europe, is being identified as “Delta Plus”.
Quoting data from some studies, the Indian Health Ministry says Delta Plus variant spreads easily than previous variants. Delta Variant is believed to be the main reason behind the spread of second round of Coronavirus infection in India. India’s health ministry says the Delta Plus variant is available for the first time in India in April this year. The variant has been found in six districts of three states — Ratnagiri and Jalgaon in Maharashtra; Palakkad and Pathanamthitta in Kerala; and Bhopal and Shivpuri in Madhya Pradesh.
What is Delta Plus variant?
Delta Plus is a mutant version of B.1.617.2 strain. World Health Organization called this Covid variant Delta. According to experts, the Delta strain drove the second wave of COVID-19, infecting millions and leading to the deaths of thousands.
Viruses usually always change. In many cases the virus changes and weakens. In some cases, the modified virus becomes stronger and more infectious than the old virus, which creates more deadly illnesses than other variants.
Where was Delta Plus first detected?
The variant was first reported from Europe in March this year. According to scientists, the Delta variant — B.1.617.2 — has further mutated to form the Delta Plus (AY.1) variant. Currently, virologists are looking to find out the characteristic of this new variant whether it is able to evade pre-existing immunity better than either Delta or Beta.
Apart from UK and India, the Delta Plus variant has been found in other 8 countries including the United States, Russia, and China. The Delta Variant, on the other hand, has already spread to 80 countries around the world.
The Delta Plus variant has an additional mutation called ‘K417N’. This virus has also been found in beta and gamma variants detected in South Africa and Brazil.
What do we know so far about Delta Plus?
Delta Plus is considered as highly infectious. One potential risk is that the new variant can be able to bypass immunity provided by both vaccine and earlier infection.
But there is no evidence that this variant could be more transmissible than others, the Economic Times reports quoting Prof Shahid Jameel, former INSACOG (Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomic Consortia) member and one of the premier virologists in India.
Is Delta Plus more deadly?
Experts believe that the Delta Plus variant of coronavirus, like Delta, can cause infections after taking the Covid-19 vaccine or even after antibodies are formed. Delta Plus is more deadly – there’s no reason to think so.
At present, many of the leading virologists are not willing to consider it a cause for concern. They believe that there is still not enough information to claim that this variant is more infectious than the previous variant or can lead to more serious illness.
“We don’t have much reason to believe this is any more dangerous than the original Delta,” according to Dr Jeremy Kamil, a virologist at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center in Shreveport.
“Delta plus might have a slight advantage at infecting and spreading between people who were previously infected earlier during the pandemic or who have weak or incomplete vaccine immunity,” Dr Kamil told BBC’s Indian correspondent Soutik Biswas.
“I would keep calm. I don’t think India or anyone else in the world has released or accumulated enough data to distinguish the risk from the so-called Delta plus as being more dangerous or concerning than the original Delta variant,” he added.
Quoting experts BBC reports, headaches are one of the main symptoms of the Delta variant. It can also have sore throat, cold and fever. But it is unlikely that the taste or smell will go away if you are infected with this variant. There is also a very low chance of coughing. According to UK experts, the Delta variant is at least 60 percent more infectious than the previous variants.
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