UK: Calls for probe into Delta-plus grow amid COVID-19 surge
With the rapid surge in COVID-19 cases in the United Kingdom, former United States' Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb called for an "urgent" probe into the Delta-plus variant. Delta-plus is a mutated variant in the highly contagious Delta lineage, which caused global panic this year. On Monday, the UK reported the highest number of COVID-19 cases since mid-July. Here are more details.
Taking to Twitter, Gottlieb highlighted that the Delta-plus includes the K417N mutation, which is also found in the Beta variant (first identified in South Africa). Notably, the Beta variant is associated with an increased risk of reinfection in COVID-19 patients. "We need urgent research to figure out if this Delta-plus is more transmissible, has partial immune evasion," he said.
Calling for more research on the Delta-plus variant, Gottlieb said, "There's no clear indication that it's considerably more transmissible, but we should work to more quickly characterize these and other new variants. We have the tools."
Meanwhile, researchers in the UK had said in June that there is no evidence to suggest the new mutation of the Delta variant is more "worrisome." Earlier this month, a German study found that Delta-plus doesn't appear to be significantly more dangerous than Delta. However, the study said that both Delta and Delta-plus infect lung cells more efficiently than the original coronavirus strain.
The number of COVID-19 infections in the UK has surpassed all other European nations. On Monday, the UK had reported 49,156 new cases of COVID-19—up from 45,140 on Sunday—marking the highest daily total since July 17. The weekly deaths from the virus also topped 800 each of the past six weeks. The COVID-19 death toll in the country stood at 1,38,629.
According to Bloomberg Quint, the percentage of people testing positive for the virus continued to increase in the week ended October 9. Jim Naismith, a professor at the University of Oxford, said, "At the moment, the UK has a higher level of COVID-19 than most other comparable countries, this is seen not just in positive tests but in hospital admissions and deaths."