Coronavirus keeps reinventing itself like some desperate influencer trying to keep itself relevent in the public eye. The only difference here is that while we all can choose to ignore a meager influencer, COVID is not to be messed around with.
Although the world has been affected by the coronavirus for just a little over an year, already we have seen several variants and mutations pop up.
India has just started to come out of the disastrous second wave that crippled our healthcare system and already we have a new coronavirus variant called Delta Plus to deal with.
It is spreading across various regions in India, but there are some things that we know about this variant.
What Is Delta Plus?
The Delta Plus is a sub-lineage of the Delta variant that was a big cause for the second wave of COVID-19 in India. The plus version has been found to carry a mutation of the spike protein called K417N. This same mutation was also seen in the Beta variant in South Africa.
The spike protein is what allows the COVID-19 virus to enter the human cells and spread the infection.
The ‘Delta Plus’ or ‘AY.1’ variant was first reported on June 11th by the Public Health England (PHE) bulletin.
The PHE in its bulletin stated that on June 7th six genomes from India were found to be carrying this variant which has gone up to 63 genomes in total.
Reports say that the K417N mutation somehow allows the virus to be less vulnerable to the COVID vaccine or other drug therapy methods, calling it an ‘immune escape’.
As per Dr. VK Paul, Member (Health), NITI Aayog this variant has been around since March 2021 and he said “Its presence had been detected and submitted to the global data system.”
Which Regions Of India It Has Spread To?
As per reports across the country around 40 cases of patients carrying the Delta coronavirus variant have been reported.
Recent reports have confirmed that around 4 states including Maharashtra, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir have reported cases of this variant.
How Serious Is It?
The Delta Plus variant carries a certain mutation in it that makes it much more transmissible than the previous ones.
States have been adviced to increase testing of this variant so that it can be controlled before it spreads too much.
As per reports, the Union Health Ministry is yet to classify Delta Plus as a ‘variant of concern’.
The biggest question seems to be whether this variant can escape the COVID vaccines. Although some reports have said that the mutation shows ‘immune escape tendencies, it is quite early to properly comment about this area.
The variant cases are not that high in number making it difficult to understand how severe it is and whether it can bypass the vaccine.
However, two cases in the UK were reported where patients even after over 14 days of having gotten their second dose of vaccine were found to have the delta plus variant. It was then termed as ‘breakthrough infections’ in reports.
As for the severity, while research is going on about it, the original Delta version was already found to be around 40-50% more infectious than the alpha version and the World Health Organisation (WHO) had classified Delta as a ‘variant of concern’ in May.
The Delta variant was found to cause various symptoms in COVID-19 patients besides just fever and other common symptoms. These included nausea, joint pain, stomach pain, vomiting, loss of appetite and more.
While it has not been confirmed yet but as per data the Delta Plus variant does seem to show “signs of resistance against the monoclonal antibody cocktail treatment.”
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