In a classic case of ‘Out of the frying pan into the fire’, a new Delta variant of the COVID-19 virus has appeared. The new variant, called Delta Plus, has been flagged by health officials all over the globe as a serious case for concern. Indian health officials broke the news about the latest variant in late June, labelling it a variant of concern (VOC).
What is Delta Plus?
Delta Plus is a result of the direct mutation of the Delta variant by acquiring the spike protein mutation K417N. The mutation has brought out the new variant, scientifically known as the AY.1 variant. The transformation of the deadly virus has become a critical health issue as experts believe it to be more virulent than earlier strains.
Initially reported in Europe in March, it was brought to public attention only in June. Since then, cases have popped up all over the world. The Indian Health Ministry has said that there are at least 40 cases of the Delta plus variant in India so far. The variant has also been found in the US, UK, Switzerland, Japan, Portugal, Russia, China, Nepal and Poland.
Presently, the Delta Plus variant is being labelled as a variant of interest (VOI) and a VOC. Medical professionals suspect that the new mutation could make Delta Plus more easily transmissible, more resistant to antibodies and vaccination. The World Health Organization (WHO) is tracking the Delta Plus variant and has reported that the variant is quite rare, accounting for just a minor fraction of all Delta sequences.
However, the Delta variant has been highlighted as a major threat by top health expert and scientist, Dr Anthony Fauci. Pointing out the fact that the Delta variant was more easily transmissible than the original COVID-19 variants, he warned that it was the biggest threat to the United States’ efforts to fight the pandemic. The Delta variant is also associated with increased disease severity and is considered to be the fastest and fittest COVID strain yet.
Defense and Safeguards
The safest and surest way to tackle the threat of the Delta variant is vaccination. Health organizations and medical professionals have all backed vaccines as the only way to combat the rising threat posed by the Delta variant and its mutants.