A post grad journalism student of SIMC, Pune with a passion for using words to get my message across in the most unique ways possible and curiosity is the force that drives me to learn and experience more every day.
The B.1.617.2 strain, also known as the Delta variant which was first detected in India, has been identified in 74 countries, according to World Health Organization's (WHO) weekly epidemiological update. Just a month ago, the variant was present in just over 40 countries.
The outbreak of the variant has been confirmed in China, United States, Africa, Scandinavia and Pacific rim countries. According to Health Secretary of the UK, Matt Hancock, the strain is around 40% more transmissible than the Alpha variant, which was already more transmissible than the original strain of coronavirus. Border controls and quarantine measures have also been ineffective against this Delta variant.
Despite strict controls in Australia, Covid cases have spiked in Melbourne. According to evidence from Guangzhou, China, 12% of patients are becoming critically ill within three to four days of the onset of the symptoms. This is four times more than what was reported in the previous outbreaks.
Indonesia reported last week that Delta variant is dominating some areas of the country and the new wave would peak in early July with 75% of hospitals beds presently occupied in the capital, Jakarta. Meanwhile, the hospitals in the Democratic Republic of Congo has seen an overwhelming rise in Covid infections, owing to the spread of the Delta variant.
In the UK, the Delta strain accounts for 91% of the new cases, as per Health Secretary Matt Hancock. According to the Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, of the US, the spread of delta variant is doubling around every two weeks in the country, reported The Guardian.
Besides being more transmissible, the strain has been observed to cause more serious illness. Based on the evidence observed in India, UK and other countries where the variant has been identified, the strain has appeared to cause more severe symptoms which include stomach pain, nausea, loss of appetite, vomiting, hearing loss and joint pain.
The fear among the health authorities around the world, right now, is that the developing countries, with their less efficient monitoring systems, may have already been infected with the Delta strain, far more than what is being reported.
Moreover, according to Public Health England (PHE), a public health body in the UK, 63 genomes of Delta with K417N mutation have been identified in GISAID, a global science initiative database. The newly mutated variant has been named Delta Plus (B.1.617.2.1), or AY.1. In India, six cases of AY.1 has been reported as of June 7.
Delta Plus cases around the world include one case each in Canada, Germany and Russia, two from Nepal, four from Switzerland, nine from Poland, 12 from Portugal, 13 from Japan and 14 from the US.
Delta-AY.1 version was found through routine scanning of variations in Delta. A small number of detected sequences had acquired the spike protein mutation K417N, it said. Scientists attribute the earliest such sequence to Europe in late March with 127 sequences added from Europe, Asia and America, said Dr Vinod Scaria, clinician and computational biologist at Delhi's Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology.
Several genomes now available across the world were part of the AY.1 or B.1.617.2.1 lineage. The sequences are mostly from Europe, Asia and America, said Scaria. The K417N mutation is also found in Beta or B.1.351, which is regarded as a variant of concern.
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