Delta Plus: Important things to know about new corona virus variant
Delta Plus, the latest variant of corona virus, has come under focus. Following reports of a number of newly detected cases from various parts of Maharashtra and from few other states as well. Maharashtra found more than 20 cases of Delta Plus variant, quoting state Health minister Rajesh Tope. The state health authorities had mentioned that the newly identified variant could potentially attack a third wave of Covid.
Human Genome-sequencing of sample, is not done to know how the widespread the delta plus is. Only around 200 sequences confirmed across the world and just around 30 confirmed in India. Maharashtra is inquiring for complete information about the people who detected with the Delta plus variant. The inquiry including their travel history, whether they got vaccine or not, and if they reinfected.
Where Delta Plus was first detected?
The delta plus variant was first noticed in Europe in March this year. However, it came to the public domain only on June 13. According to research, the Delta variant (B.1.617.2) has additionally mutated to form the Delta Plus (AY.1) variant. Virologists are looking to research if this new variant may be able to escape pre-existing immunity better than either Delta or Beta.
What do we know so far?
Delta Plus is highly contagious. There is rising concern by experts that Delta Plus may show resistance against monoclonal antibodies cocktail treatments. Such as the Roche and Cipla ones being marketed in India at steep prices (almost Rs 60,000 per dose). One potential risk that has sparked concern among the medical community. The new variant may be able to bypass even though immunity provided.
However, at the moment, there is no proof that this variant could be more transferable than others, says Prof Shahid Jameel, former INSACOG (Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomic Consortia) member. It is a cause for agonize but not fright; whether Delta Plus can beat pre-existing immunity better than earlier variants remains to be seen, he adds.
Will Delta Plus be more transmissible?
Delta Plus variant has the mutation called K417N — first found in the Beta variant (South Africa). This, associated with the fact that it also possesses all other features of its existing Delta. That might make the latest variant a lot more transmissible. The K417N mutation is inside the finder-binding domain of the spike protein. This change is significant because this mutation is also in the B.1.351 or Beta variant of concern. Earlier variants could make Delta Plus adapt better to pull off an immune escape.
Where does India stand?
The proliferation of this new variant is still less in India. Delta remains the dominant variant in the country so far. Other than Maharashtra, the other states allegedly seeing Delta Plus cases include Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Punjab and Madhya Pradesh so far. Delta Plus is not Variant of Concern (VOC) group as aso far. Todays date, it is a Variant of Interest (VoI). INSACOG is currently researching the probable transmissibility or severity of the new variant. Researches are also on to find out if this variant was passable in India during the peak of the second wave. A detail report will be available shortly.
What are the differences of Delta Plus sparking a Third Wave?
There is no surety and the current less number is not indication of any trend. Even the B.1.617, the variant at the heart of India’s terrifying second wave. It had been found in very low numbers just ahead of the surge.
How are vaccines likely to help against Delta Plus?
The two Indian vaccines have shown 3 to 8 times less potency against Delta and Beta. Now, “whether this coming together of key mutations would be neutral, additive or more than the sum of both remains to be seen,” says Prof Jameel.
Though Maharashtra has said the new variant may attack a third wave of the pandemic in the state, it has not been veneered yet by other experts. According to Dr VK Paul, member (Health), NITI Aayog, the way forward is to watch for its probable existence in the country and make convenient public health response.
Q. Why does a virus mutate?
Virus mutates by its nature. It is part of its flourish. The SARS-Cov-2 virus is a single stranded RNA virus. Changes in the genetic hierarchy of the RNA are mutations. The moment a virus enters its host cell, it starts replicating expontially. When the infection increases, at the same time rate of replication also increases. Since a virus that has got a mutation in it is called as a variant.
Q. What is the impact of mutations?
The ongoing process of mutations impact us when it leads to changes in devolution levels or on treatment. Mutations can impact positive, negative or neutral effects on human body. Negative impacts include congregating of infections, increased transmissible, ability to escape immunity. Also infect someone who has prior immunity, neutralization escape from monoclonal antibodies, improved binding to lung cells and increased severity of infection. Positive impacts can make the virus becomes non-viable.
Q. What are Delta and Delta Plus variants?
These are the names given to mutants of SARS-CoV-2 virus, based on the transformation found in them. WHO recommended using letters of the Greek alphabet. These are Alpha (B.1.1.7), Beta (B.1.351), Gamma (P.1), Delta (B.1.617), to denote variants, easier to understand for public Delta variant, also called as SARS-CoV-2 B.1.617, has around 15 to 17 mutations. Firstly it reported in October 2020. More than 60% of cases from Maharashtra in February 2021 reported as delta variants.
Indian scientists who put a name to the Delta Variant and submitted it to the global database. Delta variant is grouped as a Variant of Concern and has now breadth to 80 countries, as per WHO report.Delta variant (B.1.617) has three sub-types B1.617.1, B.1.617.2 and B.1.617.3. Among which B.1.617.1 and B.1.617.3 been classified as Variant of Interest, while B.1.617.2 (Delta Plus) been classified as a Variant of Concern.
The Delta Plus variant has an additional changes in comparison to Delta variant; this changes has been named as the K417N mutation. ‘Plus’ denotes an extra changes has happened to the Delta variant. It not necessary to understand that the Delta Plus variant is more severe or highly transmissible than the Delta variant.
Q. How a common man will protect him/her from these Variants of Concern?
People are bound to follow COVID Appropriate Behavior, includes wearing a mask properly, washing hands frequently and maintaining physical distancing. The second wave not gone yet. It is possible to prevent a big third wave following COVID appropriate behavior. Further, each district must be closely monitor positivity test rate in . If the positivity rate goes above 5%, strict restrictions must be imposed.