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All you need to know about Delta + Variant (AY.1)

Another mutation in the Delta variant exhibits a higher transmissibility rate that has raised concern for India. “Since it’s a new variant, scientific knowledge is still in the early stage,” said VK Paul, Covid task force chief. It’s an early stage to declare the severity of the disease or vaccines potency against the new strain of the new mutant generated from the already existing Delta variant.

As far we know that it’s a sub-lineage of the dominant variant and mutations in its spike protein have a possibility to increase its transmissibility and can evade the body’s immune response. Today, vaccines are available to prevent the severity caused by the infection but how effective it is against Delta variants is a matter of investigation. The emergence of new mutant has raised many questions concerning the third wave in the country. Will it be more devastating like the second wave? Or it can be less severe?

Read on to know more about the major concern of Delta plus variant.

What is the Delta plus variant?

First detected in India, “Delta Variant” was responsible for the deadly second wave in the country, and triggered havoc in other parts of the world. The highly contagious variant emerged in a few months and formed a new mutation “Delta Plus” (AY.1). According to studies, the already existing Delta variant acquired spike protein mutation K417N for the formation of a new variant which helps viruses to enter & infect human cells. Same mutation was found in beta and gamma variants, first found in South Africa and Brazil.

It is believed that the variant has increased transmissibility and is resistant to monoclonal antibodies cocktail. However sufficient data is still not there as only 70 cases are found in India with delta pus variation in Genome sequencing. The severity of the disease due to this variant is still not clear in comparison to the other variants.

Could Delta Plus cause a third wave in India?

A new mutation Delta variant plus (AV.1), which is stated as “Variant of Concern (VoC) ” could strike a third wave in the country. In the second wave, India has already been ravaged by the Delta variant and horrifying scenes from hospitals and covid care centres came out depicting the diminishing healthcare infrastructure of the country. Last week, the Ministry of Health released the possible concerns associated with the newly emerged variant which are; increased transmissibility, stronger binding to receptors of lung cells and a potential reduction in response to monoclonal antibodies ( although sufficient data is not available for the same)

Currently the number of cases identified as Delta plus variant is less, but there may be asymptomatic individuals who could be carrying the virus and spreading it. As of now Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu are the regions where Delta plus variant has been detected in a substantial number followed by less than 10 cases in Chandigarh, Kerala and Rajasthan and few other states. However, the outcome of the third wave depends on the immunity level of the community both from prior infections and from vaccines.

Conclusion

So far, we know that the delta plus variant has a greater ability to attack lung cells, and potentially escape vaccines. Its affinity to the mucosal lining in the lungs is much higher compared to the other variants. It is expected that the Delta plus variant is going to be dominant in the coming months and can be a cause for worry needing a close watch on its severity and effects.

– Dr. Puja Gupta, MD (Path), HOD and QM, Lab services, Saral Diagnostics Classic, Noida
Email – puja@sar.al

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