The World Health Organization has warned about a potential surge in the cases of highly-transmissible Delta variant of Covid-19 that has now been reported in 135 countries. The cumulative number of coronavirus cases reported globally could exceed 200 million by next week, it said. However, tally from official sources compiled by AFP stated that the cases have already crossed the feared number.
In India, Delta variant was behind the deadly second wave of the coronavirus that killed thousands and infected lakhs during the period of March to May.
What is Delta Variant?
First identified in India, this variant has been attributed as the driver behind the country’s devastating second covid wave, which saw cases and deaths rise exponentially. According to a study, vaccines are also eight times less effective against the variant, as compared to the original strain found in Wuhan, China.
The variant is known to have extra transmissibility, as well as causing more severe symptoms in patients. Other countries are now also reporting increasing cases of the variant, including UK and Israel. According to a recent report, the Delta variant is reportedly responsible for over 90% of recent cases in Israel, which lifted restrictions in June, although around 57% of the population is vaccinated.
According to Medical experts, the common symptoms in people infected with delta variant are fever, headache, sore throat and runny nose. Once the virus enters the body, the illness can last as long as the original virus, the duration of which is two weeks. The duration can be longer depending on the severity of the infection. Some new studies also suggest this variant progresses faster in hospitalised patients.
How Effective are Vaccines Against Delta Variant?
On Wednesday, The New York Times reported that physicians working in COVID hot spots across the United States say that the patients in their hospitals are not like the patients they saw last year. Almost always unvaccinated, the new arrivals tend to be younger, many in their 20s or 30s. And they seem sicker than younger patients were last year, deteriorating more rapidly.
Doctors have coined a new phrase to describe them: “younger, sicker, quicker.” Many physicians treating them suspect that the delta variant of the coronavirus, which now accounts for more than 80% of new infections nationwide, is playing a role.
Studies done in a handful of other countries suggest that the variant may cause more severe disease, but there is no definitive data showing that the new variant is somehow worse for young adults. Several patients with COVID-19 now arriving at the hospital are not just unvaccinated — they are much younger than 50, a stark departure from the frail, older patients seen when the pandemic first surged last year.
The vaccines are powerfully effective against severe illness and death after infection with any variant of the virus, including delta. A vast majority of hospitalized patients nationwide — roughly 97% — are unvaccinated, the report said.
Health experts say that the Delta variant spreads more easily because of mutations that make it better at latching onto cells in our bodies.The Delta has quickly become dominant wherever it has landed, including the US. Viruses constantly mutate, and most changes aren’t concerning. But the worry is that unchecked spread could fuel mutations and produce a variant that’s even more contagious, causes more severe illness or evades the protection that vaccines provide.
It’s why experts say making vaccines accessible globally is so critical. And, they note the importance of being fully vaccinated; getting just one dose of the two-dose vaccines isn’t as protective against the Delta.
What Makes Delta Variant so Contagious?
This variant spreads significantly quicker than the other Corona variants, and hundreds of people were infected in a short period of time. A study was conducted recently by Chinese scientists to find out why the Delta various has become so contagious. Researchers from Center for Disease Control and Prevention in China’s Guangdong province examined people who were infected with the Delta variant of the virus.
These researchers discovered that the variation quickly prepares its own copy. In a short period of time, one virus can multiply into a large number of viruses. In addition, patient’s symptoms begin to show almost immediately.
This study was conducted in Guangzhou, the capital of Guangdong province, between May 21 and June 18, according to the British newspaper the Daily Mail. During the study 62 patients infected by the Delta variant were observed and the findings were compared to 63 people who were infected in 2020. It was noticed by the researchers that the Delta various spread rapidly in the body of the infected individual. The viral load was 1000 time higher in the patients infected by the Delta variant.
Delta Cases Globally
The Covid-19 Weekly Epidemiological Update dated August 3, released by WHO, said globally 132 countries have reported cases of the Beta variant and 81 countries of the Gamma variant. It said the cases of Alpha variant have been reported in 182 countries, territories or areas, while 135 countries have reported cases of the Delta variant.