Coronavirus: Why is Delta Plus a variant of concern?

·2-min read

The Indian ministry of health has declared the Delta Plus variant of covid-19 as a variant of concern. Read along to find out all about the new variant found in Kerala, Maharashtra, and Madhya Pradesh. So far over 40 cases of this new variant have surfaced.

“As of now among the samples sequenced (45,000+) in India, Delta plus variant — AY.1 –has been observed sporadically in Maharashtra, Kerala and Madhya Pradesh, with around 40 cases identified so far and no significant increase in prevalence,” stated the ministry.

What is a variant of concern?

As per the classification of variants by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are three types: Variant of Interest (VOI), Variant of high consequence and, Variant of Concern (VOC).

A variant of Concern (VOC) is a virus variant that shows increased transmissibility. Severe cases of infection with a VOC lead to hospitalization and even death. “A significant reduction in neutralization by antibodies generated during previous infection or vaccination, reduced effectiveness of treatments or vaccines, or diagnostic detection failures,” reported CDC. Some of the most common VOCs include Alpha or B.1.1.7 from the UK, Beta or B.1.351 found in South Africa, and Epsilon or B.1.427 identified in the US.

Everything we know about the Delta Plus variant

As per research, the Delta Plus variant of SARS-Cov-2 has an increased transmissibility. Additionally, it binds strongly to lung cell receptors and leads to a reduction in monoclonal antibody response. According to studies, Delta Plus (AY.1) variant is a mutation of the Delta variant or B.1.617.2. Moreover, the variant has a high disease incidence. Experts are concerned about its resistance to monoclonal antibody cocktail concoctions.

The variant has increased fear in the healthcare system. That is because it can bypass immunity from both, earlier infection and the COVID-19 vaccine. “However, at the moment, there is no proof that this variant could be more transmissible than others,” said Professor Shahid Jameel, a premier virologist and former member of Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomic Consortia (INSACOG). “It is a cause for worry but not panic; whether Delta Plus can beat pre-existing immunity better than earlier variants remains unknown,” he added.

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