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India is strongly emerging out of the wrath of the second wave of Covid-19. The emotional, financial and health impact of this virus has left people in distress. There is, however, a new development that is exacerbating the situation. New Coronavirus mutations have arisen to threaten India’s response to the spread of this virus.
While the case count is not alarming, Delta and Delta Plus variants have emerged as mutated strains of the Covid-19 virus. The concern here is that these strains are likely to be highly transmissible and may even affect vaccine efficacy.
Delta (B.1.617.2) variant was first detected in India and has spread to more than 90 countries. It is considered a Variant of Concern (VoC), according to WHO. It is known to cause severe symptoms, and could also possibly provoke different symptoms than other variants. WHO officials have stated that the Delta variant is the fastest and fittest of all known variants. The concern lies in the fact that this variant may infect more vulnerable people more efficiently than other variants, leading to hospitalization in many cases.
Delta Plus (B.1.617.2.1/(AY.1) is a sub-lineage of the Delta variant and has acquired the spike protein mutation called K417N. The mutation, coupled with other existing features of the Delta variant, is a serious factor for concern as it makes this variant more transmissible. The Delta Plus variant has been reported in more than 11 countries, including the likes of Canada, India (detected in Maharashtra), Japan, Switzerland and the United States.
The difference between the two variants is the K417N mutation in spike protein, present in the Delta Plus variant. Moreover, the Delta Plus variant was first reported by Public Health England in June 2021.
The Indian Health Ministry stated, “the mutation K417N has been of interest as it is present in the Beta variant (B.1.351 lineage), which was reported to have immune evasion property.”
There’s still research pending into the matter but the medical community is worried that the Delta Plus variant of Coronavirus may reduce the effect of the vaccinations available.
A Variant of Concern is a mutated Covid-19 strain that has high transmissibility and can reduce the ability of available medical options of treatment. In this case, Delta and Delta Plus variants are more infectious and transmissible than their predecessors. The strain used to develop the vaccines that are currently available is significantly different from these variants. Hence, it has become extremely important to find out how these two variants affect the efficacy of the vaccines.
Not only can these two variants affect a higher number of people and cause serious physical illness but can also put an excessive burden on the global healthcare system.
Until there’s more information about the Delta and Delta Plus variants, it is important to keep observing precautions such as wearing a mask and washing your hands frequently. It is best to observe these precautions even if you’re vaccinated!