Is there a 'Delta plus' version that is immune to vaccines? Can it trigger the third wave?
Last month, the World Health Organization designated the B.1.617.2 strain as the SARS-CoV-2 ‘Delta' variation. The "Delta" variant has since evolved into the "Delta plus" or "AY.1" variant
The advent of the Delta and Delta plus strains of the coronavirus illness (Covid-19) has placed India, and by extension the rest of the world, on high alert once again. Delta plus is the latest in a long line of novel mutant variants of the Delta Covid-19 strain, which was first discovered in India. While the older strain was mostly blamed for the Covid-19 pandemic's second wave in India, the new, more virulent variant is being feared ahead of a possible third wave.
The newest version is still being researched, and scientists are trying to figure out what distinguishes Covid-19 symptoms from those caused by the Delta plus mutant. Apart from the usual dry cough, fever, tiredness, aches and pains, skin rashes, toes and fingers discoloration, sore throat, conjunctivitis, loss of taste and smell, diarrhoea, headache, chest pain, breathlessness, shortness of breath, and speech loss, preliminary studies appear to suggest that Delta plus patients also experienced stomach ache, nausea, appetite loss, vomiting, joint pains, and heaving.
Health experts have warned that the Delta Plus or AY.01 version, which could escape the body's immune system, could unleash a third wave in the coming months. According to research, the prevalence of this new variety is still modest in India, although Delta remains the country's dominant variant.
Professor Shahid Jameel, one of India's finest virologists and a former member of the Indian Sars-CoV-2 Genomic Consortia (INSACOG), expressed reservations about the Delta plus variation earlier this week. He believes that the new mutant strain may be capable of evading immunity resulting from both Covid-19 vaccinations and previous infections. Professor Jameel noted that the Delta plus variant not only has all of the symptoms of the original Delta variant, but it also has symptoms from its partner Beta variant (K417N mutation).
Vaccines against the Delta plus Covid-19 mutation are being tested in multiple studies in India and around the world. According to India's health ministry, areas where it has been discovered "may need to increase their public health response by focusing on surveillance, enhanced testing, swift contact-tracing, and priority vaccination." Authorities have warned that Delta Plus might cause another wave of illnesses in India, which only recently recovered from the world's biggest outbreak.