Delta Plus: All about the new COVID-19 variant
AY.1 or Delta Plus, a relatively new variant of the novel coronavirus, is being considered highly-contagious and leading to concerns over a fresh outbreak in the United Kingdom. Now worryingly, the mutated strain has started to spread in India, with three states reporting cases. Which states are they and how many cases have been found there?
The new variant was formed through an additional mutation (K417N) to the Delta variant (B.1.617.2), which drove India's dreadful second wave of the pandemic. "There are speculations that this mutant is more contagious and it is 35-60 percent more infectious compared to alpha variant (sic)," said Dr. Subhradip Karmakar, a doctor at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi.
Delta Plus variant cases have been reported in three Indian states. Maharashtra, the worst-hit state in the COVID-19 outbreak, has the most number of cases, according to State Health Minister Rajesh Tope. He said on Monday the western state had 21 such cases. Of them, nine were from Ratnagiri, seven from Jalgaon, two from Mumbai, and one each from Palghar, Sindhudurg, and Thane districts.
Meanwhile, Kerala has recorded three cases of the new variant, reports say. One of the patients was a four-year-old boy from Pathanamthitta district while the other two infections were found in Palakkad. The first Delta Plus case in India was detected in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh. Further, four people infected with the variant, have reportedly died in the state's Shivpuri district.
The Delta Plus variant could possibly evade immunity generated from vaccination as well as prior COVID-19 infection, said Prof. Shahid Jameel, a top virologist and a former member of the Indian government's Consortium on Genomics, according to India Today. Reports also said the variant is resistant to the monoclonal antibody treatment, which was recently authorized in India for COVID-19 treatment.
There is no evidence yet to show any link between the new variant and a possible third wave of the pandemic in India, experts said. India had faced the world's worst coronavirus outbreak earlier this year, with daily cases peaking at 4,14,000 in early May. The situation has since improved. In the past 24 hours, India reported its lowest daily surge in 91 days.