New Delhi, July 19: The Delta variant of COVID-19 was primarily responsible for the second wave of COVID-19 in India. This new variant of the deadly coronavirus is also around 40-60 percent more transmissible than its predecessor, the Alpha variant. It has already spread to more than 80 countries, including the UK, the US, and Singapore. Dr NK Arora, co-chair of the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium said that the Delta variant accounted for over 80 percent of new coronavirus cases in India, underlining that the cases may go up if a new, more infectious variant comes.

The Delta variant of COVID-19 has been in focus as it is now a global concern. However, it becomes necessary for us to understand what makes this variant so virulent. In an interview, Dr Arora elaborated about the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for testing and follow-up on variants, what makes the Delta variant so transmissible and how genomic surveillance can help contain its spread. Take a look at the frequently asked questions about the Delta variant of COVID-19. COVID-19 Delta Variant Infected Even Vaccinated People During Second Wave, Says ICMR.

Delta variant of COVID-19

B.1.617.2, a variant of COVID-19 is known as the Delta variant. It was first identified in October 2020 in India and was primarily responsible for the second wave in the country. It accounts for over 80 percent of new COVID-19 cases today. The Delta variant emerged in Maharashtra and traveled northwards along the western states of the country before entering the central and the eastern states.

Why is the Delta variant so virulent?

The Delta variant of COVID-19 has mutations in its spike protein, which helps it bind to the ACE2 receptors present on the surface of the cells more firmly. This makes it more transmissible and capable of evading the body’s immunity. This variant is around 40-60 percent more transmissible than its predecessor (Alpha variant) and has already spread to more than 80 countries, including the UK, the USA, Singapore, and so on.

Are COVID-19 vaccines in India effective against the Delta variant?

Yes, the current COVID-19 vaccines in India are effective against Delta Variant as per the studies undertaken by ICMR on the issue.

Is the Delta Plus variant more aggressive than the Delta variant?

The Delta Plus variant-AY.1 and AY.2- has so far been detected in 55-60 cases across 11 states, including Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, and Madhya Pradesh. AY.1 is also found in countries like Nepal, Portugal, Switzerland, Poland, Japan but AY.2 is less prevalent. The variant is still being studied for its transmissibility, virulence, and vaccine escape characteristics.

Does the Delta variant cause more severe disease as compared to other variants?

There are studies that show that there are some mutations in this variant that promote syncytium formation. Besides, on invading a human cell, it replicates faster. It leads to a strong inflammatory response in organs like the lungs. However, it is difficult to say that disease due to delta variant is more severe. The age profile and the deaths during the second wave in India were quite similar to those seen during the first wave.

The new mutations or variants of concern are cultured and scientific studies are undertaken to see the impact on infectiousness, virulence, vaccine efficacy, and immune escape properties. In India, the second wave fo COVID-19 is still going on. Any future waves will be controlled and delayed if more and more people get vaccinated and most importantly, people follow COVID-Appropriate Behaviour effectively, especially till a substantial part of our population gets vaccinated.

India administered 47.77 lakh COVID-19 vaccine doses on the 185th day of vaccination on July 19. The cumulative vaccine coverage in the country has increased to more than 41 crores. As per data by the Health Ministry, over 13.24 crore doses were administered in the 18-44 age group.

(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Jul 19, 2021 09:05 PM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website