The variant B.1.617.2, named as Delta has seen its inception in India during the second wave and have now become dominant in the UK.
- Delta VOC has been considered as one of the main reasons behind India’s devastating second wave.
- The Delta variant is also causing numerous breakthrough infections among fully vaccinated people.
- The experts have advised lessening the gap between the two doses of vaccine so that the antibodies are created to fight against the Delta variant.
- The variant is highly transmissible and so far India has recorded over 12,413 cases as of June 3.
It has now finally revealed what led to India’s devastating second wave of COVID-19 cases that tumbled down the entire economic and medical infrastructure of the country. According to the INSACOG genomic sequence study, the Delta (B.1.617.2) variant, has been known to be dominant during the second wave. The variant also has a 50 percent higher transmission speed than the Alpha (B.1.17) variant and the country has now recorded over 12,431 cases infected with the Delta variant as of June 3.
The variant that has its origin in India is one of the vital reasons why a sudden spike was seen in the infections in Delhi. The Capital city, which is now experiencing its fourth wave of the pandemic, accounted for over 60% of the cases affecting with Delta in April. The variant does have high immunization properties but also is extremely transmissible.
A rise in Breakthrough Infections
World Health Organization has identified four Variants of Concern (VOC) that include .1.1.7, B.1.351, P2, and B.1.617.2 which are labeled as Alpha, Beta, Gamma, and now Delta. According to the scientists, the bodies which have suffered any prior infection or have high seropositivity, or are partially vaccinated have now become the cause of the breakthrough infection. There have been numerous instances of breakthrough infection in people after receiving both the jabs of the vaccine.
According to a study conducted at CSIR-Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (CSIR-IGIB) and the National Centre of Disease Control, 27 cases of breakthrough infections were seen in which two variants were found to be dominating. The B.1.617.1, that is Kappa and Delta that comprised 8% and 76% of infections respectively. The variant has been analyzed to be mutating since its inception. The proportion of the variant took off from 5 percent in February to 10 percent in March and took over the UK variant Alpha in April accounting for 60 percent to the level of transmissibility.
How Delta Variant can be contained?
The Lancet Journal’s new study has revealed that the Pfizer vaccine is not completely effective against the Delta variant as the antibody response to this variant is extremely lower in those who have received just one dose of the vaccine. And if the vaccine has a significant gap between the second shot, then the antibodies are going to fall against Delta. The only option left here is to give the second dose of vaccine as quickly as possible if India is determined on avoiding a further rise in infection. But that looks like a difficult thing for now as the gap between the second dose has been shifted to 84 days to which the government has claimed through its studies that the effectiveness of Covishield has increased with time. Though the government has been criticized for this decision as a tremendous shortage of doses was experienced in the country.
COVID wave can hit back
Now that the cases have started to drip overall in the country, but it is now the duty of the people to not get complacent and ensure that the COVID-appropriate behavior is maintained all the time. All the measures taken have resulted in containing the virus in various districts successfully, but if the situation gets reversed, the whole country can fall into the trap of the fourth wave. Delta was one of the main reasons why India suffered from the second wave and now the breakthrough infections. Commencing from June, around 278 infections were reported with the Delta variant who were admitted in an emergency. Before this week, over 201 people attended the hospital with the virus. The inferences drawn showcased that the majority of these people were not vaccinated and if given vaccination, then the two doses can act highly effective against the Delta variant.
With this variant, there is a high risk of hospitalization is associated and now the UK is considered to be the worst hit by it. So far, the cases with this variant have risen by 795 to 2149 in the northwest of England with Bolton and a total of 724 cases in Blackburn with Darwen. Though the UK is planning to end all of its lockdown restrictions by June 21, this new VOC is going to raise a lot of questions if people do not remain cautious.
So now that it is known that Delta is a VOC and needs to be tackled, three crucial steps need to be taken: fasten the vaccination drive for those aged 18 above in the country, lessen the period between the two doses, and if needed be prepared with booster shot for the population over 60 years of age.
There are going to be hurdles every step of the way and to tackle with every new strain of COVID, the government must always have a roadmap ready to ensure the safety of the people without letting the system to collapse.