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Will The New COVID-19 Variant “Delta Plus” Propel India’s Third Wave? 10 Things We Know

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Delta Plus variant of COVID to cause third wave? The ‘Delta plus’ variant of the coronavirus, first identified in India, may trigger the third wave of infections, Maharashtra health department warned this week. NITI Aayog Member (Health) Dr. VK Paul had earlier confirmed that a new coronavirus mutation called Delta plus variant had been detected and it has been there since March 2021 in Europe.

It has become a global concern now with studies showing Delta plus variant is more contagious and resistant to vaccines than other forms of the virus.

Here are ten things to know about the new Delta plus variant:

1. The highly transmissible Delta or ‘B.1.617.2 variant’ of SARS-CoV-2 has mutated further to the form of ‘Delta plus’ or ‘AY.1’ variant. The new variant was first identified in India.

2. The Maharashtra task force for the virus and medical experts have warned that the number of active cases is expected to scale-up in a possible third wave due to the mutated variant. Recently, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson delayed plans to lift pandemic curbs until July 19 due to a surge in the delta variant cases of COVID-19.

3. Though it is yet to be classified as a “variant of concern”, Delta plus is said to be resistant to the monoclonal antibody cocktail treatment for COVID-19 recently authorised in India. “As per data available in public domain, this variant nullifies the use of monoclonal antibody,” Paul said. He termed it as a “Variant of Interest” for now.

4. According to Vinod Scaria, clinician and scientist at Delhi’s CSIR-Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB),  AY.1 is characterized by the acquisition of K417N mutation. He tweeted on Sunday stating that the mutation maps to the receptor binding domain and has also been associated with immune escape. According to the research, he said, AY.1 is in the spike protein of SARS-COV-2, which helps the virus enter and infect the human cells.

5. The health department needs to monitor it through the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Consortium on Genomics (INSACOG) in order to assess and detect its potential presence and growth in our country, Paul said, adding this process is the way forward in relation to the virus.

6. On June 11, the Public Health England said that 63 genomes of Delta (B.1.617.2) with the new K417N mutation have been identified so far on the global science initiative GISAID. The health agency added that as of June 7 the Delta plus was present in six genomes from India.

7. Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Wednesday directed health agencies to stock-up with medicines and equipment in the state with a focus on rural areas to prepare for the third wave of the pandemic.

8. The state health department also released an official statement saying the number of active patients could reach up to eight lakh, while 10 percent out of them could be children if spcial distancing and the required guidelines are not followed.

9. The Maharashtra government has collected that sent a substantial number of samples from various districts for genome sequencing to verify if any new mutation of SARS-CoV-2 has taken place. The aim is now to identify the new COVID-19 variant in patients and prepare for the worse.

10. However, Paul has made some warning to the citizens that amid unlocking and easing up the curbs, people should maintain social distancing.

Image Credit: the Week