Covid-19: Delta plus variant a cause of concern; vaccination, double masks and covid-19 protocols necessary

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June 29, 2021 2:18 PM

The Delta Plus variant is now making rounds in India as the previous Delta variant mutated. The researchers are currently studying the transmissibility of the new mutated variant along with vaccine effectiveness on the variant.

As many as 28 labs have been set up by the Health Ministry where genome sequencing of the virus is being conducted.

The Delta Plus variant is now making rounds in India as the previous Delta variant mutated. The researchers are currently studying the transmissibility of the new mutated variant along with vaccine effectiveness on the variant. However, so far, according to the experts, this variant has a lesser transmission rate when compared to the Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2. To be sure, it was the Delta variant, also known as B.1.617.2, which was a large contributor to coronavirus infections during the second wave in India. This variant was first identified in India only and since then, has mutated into the sub-lineages- AY.1 and AY.2, commonly called Delta Plus.

Citing Dr Sujit Singh, chief of the National Centre for Disease Control, a report by The IE noted that there is a dire need to understand the continued evolution of the B.1.617.2. For now, the World Health Organization has called Delta a variant of concern, but the Indian government, on the other hand, believes that Delta Plus (AY.1) can be a variant of concern for the country. Further investigations are being conducted on it.

As of now, the prevalence of Delta Plus in India is low and further mutations can lead the virus to become more transmissible or virulent. Since both AY.1 and AY.2 sub-lineages are descendants of Delta, it is likely that they have similar properties as of Delta variant.

According to Dr Singh, based on the genomic data and lab studies, it is difficult to say whether there has been any increase in transmission of the Delta Plus variant. The report noted that the increase in Delta Plus cases is not as fast as it was seen with the Delta variant. But the central government has asked all officials and experts to keep a close watch. Some Delta Plus cases have surfaced in India across 12 states. In order to take action, the public officials are trying to enhance testing, and quick contact tracing. Vaccinations are also being given priority.

As many as 28 labs have been set up by the Health Ministry where genome sequencing of the virus is being conducted. From 45,000 samples collected from across 12 states for sequencing, around 48 samples showed the presence of the mutated variant. It is crucial to understand the transmissibility of this variant right now, so that effective measures can be taken to control the spread, the report noted.

In Maharashtra, 21 cases of Delta Plus variant have been reported where one person succumbed to it. Dr Pradeep Awate who is a state surveillance officer said while the investigations are underway, they have not seen any alarming rise in cases with the new variant.

In terms of vaccine, one dose of Covishield is expected to be over 70 per cent effective against severe disease or hospitalisation against the Delta variant. However, there is no clarity on vaccination effectiveness on Delta Plus variant. Experts are still waiting for more data on the mutated variant.

It is better to stay protected than getting Covid-19 infection. Dr Shashank Joshi, an expert member of the Maharashtra Covid task force highlighted that for now, double-masking, getting vaccinated and strictly adhering to Covid-appropriate behaviour is extremely important. No one can afford to be casual right now, Dr Shashank Joshi said.

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