Delta Variant: More Contagious COVID Strain Grabs World by the Ankle, Prompting Restrictions
Genetic variants of SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) have been popping around the world since the first outbreak in late 2019. The highly contagious Delta variant of Covid-19 has sent fright waves across the world, as the World Health Organization (WHO) reveals that the new strain has reached 96 countries.
First identified in India, this variant has been recognized as a “variant of concern” by the WHO in May. The organization has also stated that this variant has the potential “to be more lethal because it’s more efficient in the way it transmits between humans and it will eventually find those vulnerable individuals who will become severely ill, have to be hospitalized and potentially die.”
WHO has announced that delta is becoming the dominant variant of the diseases across the world. Studies have suggested that it is around 60 percent more transmissible than alpha, another variant first identified in the UK that was more contagious than the original strain.
The variant has now spread to over 90 countries and it continues to mutate as it spreads across the globe. It makes up at least 10 percent of all new cases in the United States and is on its way to dominating the country.
Meanwhile, the UK saw delta become the dominant strain there, surpassing its native alpha variant, which was first reported in the county last fall.
Delta variant is different from other variants, making it more unpredictable and more dangerous. Moreover, it may reduce vaccine protection against infection and disease. It is the fastest and fittest COVID variant and will ‘pick off’ the most vulnerable, including young, old, unvaccinated and vaccinated with one dose.
This variant has multiple mutations that appear to give it an advantage over its counterparts. These mutations may make the strain more contagious and the most dangerous one yet, than any other variant.
The WHO reported that the variant is showing “substantial loss” of defense for individuals who have had only one shot of the AstraZeneca AZN, -0.47% AZN, vaccine, which has been widely used in Europe and elsewhere.
The European Center for Disease Control said the delta variant will likely spread widely across the European Union in the summer months and is projected to account for 90 percent of all cases by the end of August.
A New Panic Wave
With flu-like symptoms or hay fever-like symptoms, the new variant has created a situation of fear and panic. Some of these symptoms were linked with COVID-19 last year.
The variant has caused a fresh wave of cases in Israel, prompting consideration of reimposing mandatory face masks indoors to halt the spread.
In the meantime, residents of seven districts in Sydney, Australia, have been banned from leaving the city as the authorities are trying to contain an outbreak of new variant.
The US is experiencing a rising number of delta cases with every passing week, with President Biden saying that if careless and unvaccinated, many more are likely to die in the county.
The WHO has been urging wealthy countries, including the US to donate vaccine doses to poor countries. The Biden administration earlier detailed where it will be sending 55 million vaccine doses, the majority of which is to be circulated through COVAX, the WHO-backed immunization program.
The global number for coronavirus-borne sickness has reached over 180 million, with nearly 4 million deaths. The US continues to be at the top with 33.6 million cases and over 600,000 deaths. The US is followed by India with 30 million cases and over 390,000 deaths. Brazil has the third-highest count with 18 million cases and over 500,000 deaths.
Very Little Hope
The only expert opinion that has been widely issued is to get vaccinated as soon as possible. They have also warned that if the virus is left unchecked, new strains could emerge that will prove resistant to existing vaccines and send scientists back in flux.
However, with lifting restrictions and varying rates of vaccination across the globe, controlling the spread of the coronavirus has become incredibly difficult.
Showing a glimmer of hope, Johnson & Johnson has said that its coronavirus vaccine provides immunity, lasting at least eight months, and appears to provide adequate defense from the Delta variant.
Dr. Mathai Mammen, head of research and development at J&J’s Janssen vaccine arm, said,
Current data for the eight months studied so far show that the single-shot Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine generates a strong neutralizing antibody response that does not wane; rather, we observe an improvement over time.
According to the company, one dose of the vaccine elicits both a lasting antibody response and produces immune cells called T-cells that last eight months. However, it is further testing to see if giving two doses of its vaccine will provide better protection.
Word to the Wise
It seems as if many people have thrown caution to the wind with the lifting of restrictions, which is both irresponsible and unsafe. And not taking vaccination is downright foolish, given the toll this virus has taken on the global community.
Experts have time and again stated that the coronavirus can only be fought with sheer determination and regard for safety measures.
Wearing masks, maintaining social distancing, washing your hands frequently, and staying indoors unless necessary – are the few basic guidelines that can help curb the spread of the COVID-19 and all of its variants.