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Recently, the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), has warned people against the new Covid-19 strain ‘Delta Plus’ (DP).

The Health Ministry has categorized Delta Plus variant of coronavirus as a ‘variant of concern’. It has been detected in many states.

What is a ‘variant of concern’?

It is one for which there is evidence of:

  1. An increase in transmissibility.
  2. More severe diseases that require hospitalization or death.
  3. A significant reduction in neutralization by antibodies generated during previous infection or vaccination.
  4. Reduced effectiveness of treatments or vaccines, or diagnostic detection failures

 

About Delta Plus

·         Delta plus (B.1.617.2.1/(AY.1) is a new variant of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus formed due to a mutation in the Delta strain of the virus (B.1.617.2 variant). It is technically the next generation of SARS-COV-2.

·         This mutant of Delta was first detected in Europe in March 2021.

·         It is resistant to monoclonal antibodies cocktail. Since it’s a new variant, its severity is still unknown.

·         People reported symptoms like headaches, sore throats, runny noses, and fever.

·         The World Health Organization (WHO) is tracking this variant as part of the Delta variant, it is doing so for other Variants of Concern with additional mutations.

 

Transmissibility

§  It has acquired the spike protein mutation called K417N which is also found in the Beta variant first identified in South Africa.

§  The spike protein is used by SARS-CoV-2, the virus which causes Covid-19, to enter the host cells.

§  Some scientists fear that the mutation combined with other existing features of the Delta variant could make it more transmissible.

 

Major Concerns

·         Multiple studies are ongoing in India and globally to test the effectiveness of vaccines against the Delta plus Covid-19 mutation.

·         India's health ministry warned that regions where it has been found "may need to enhance their public health response by focusing on surveillance, enhanced testing, quick contact-tracing, and priority vaccination."

·         There are worries Delta Plus would inflict another wave of infections on India after it emerged from the world’s worst surge in cases only recently.

The health ministry says the Delta plus variant, first found in India in April, has been detected in around 40 samples from six districts in three states - Maharashtra, Kerala and Madhya Pradesh. At least 16 of these samples were found in Maharashtra, one of the states hardest hit by the pandemic

Delta plus has also been found in nine other countries - USA, UK, Portugal, Switzerland, Japan, Poland, Nepal, Russia and China - compared to the original highly contagious Delta strain, which has now spread to 80 countries

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