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Coronavirus update 2021 spring: What is the Delta variant?

by Staff reporter
15 Aug 2021 at 09:40hrs | Views
It is 2021 and we have not fully recovered from Covid-19 and what the pandemic did to the world. So, what's new in 2021? Although we have good news with the vaccine for the virus discovered, distributed, and being perfected, there are still a few bumps in the road.

The delta variant of the coronavirus - discovered in 2020 - took the world by surprise. When we thought we were finally beating the virus and winning, it turned up out of nowhere. What is the Delta Variant? How infectious is it? Are vaccines effective against it? All these questions and more will be answered below.

What is the delta variant of the Coronavirus?

The delta variant, or B.1.617.2, was first recorded in October of 2020 in the state of Maharashtra, India. And since then, it has continued to spread from India to various parts of the world. This has made it one of the most contagious diseases ever discovered, so much so that it was branded a "variant of concern" by the WHO on the 11th of May.

As of writing this article, the World Health Organization has also branded four different variants as VOC's: alpha (B.1.1.7), beta (B.1.351), gamma (P.1), and delta (B.1.617.2).

According to Deepti Gurdasani, who serves as a clinical epidemiologist for the Queen Mary University of London, the delta variant has different mutations, all of which scientists do not know how exactly these mutations work. Research is on the way to discover what functions they perform, but they seem to give the virus the ability to bind with human cells and evade the immune system.

How far has the delta variant spread?

The delta variant has infected more than 96 countries, with over 65,000 cases discovered as of July 1st in the UK alone. And according to GISAID, the UK has the highest number of delta variants in the world and it keeps spreading more and more over time.

Do note that countries do not report their data to GISAID every day, so readings are not always accurate. Also, countries have different resources channeled into fighting the virus, so sequencing differs. This basically means that it isn't always possible to know which variant of the virus is responsible for the spread of the infection. This translates to the possibility of delta cases being more than we think they are. Thus, it's more important than ever to be responsible. If you've come in contact with an infected person, make sure you self-isolate. You could check out available sites in Zimbabwe if you'd like to spend some quality time during isolation.

Difference between Delta Variant and Delta Variant plus

According to recent reports, there may be a new, much more infectious strain of the delta variant, often referred to as delta plus in the medical community. This delta plus variant has a similar mutation to the beta variant that was first seen in South Africa: the K417N mutation. Luckily, there aren't many cases of this virus.

How infectious is the delta variant?

According to British epidemiologist, Neil Ferguson, the Delta variant, when compared to the Alpha variant—the original variant that started the whole pandemic—is 60% more contagious and can easily be passed from one person to another.

And based on the numbers reported from the UK, this seems to be the truth. From the beginning of June 2020, the number of cases started to rise steadily, and the country was left with more than 15,000 new cases daily. This could be attributed to how fast the delta variant spreads.

And according to Public Health England (PHE), almost 90% of the new cases that were diagnosed in that period in the UK were the delta variant of the virus.

Are vaccines effective?

A study by Public Health England revealed that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is 94% effective in preventing hospitalization after a single dose, and 96% effective with a double dose. While AstraZeneca was 71% effective with a single dose and 92% effective after two doses, although this study is still under review.

This means that using either of these vaccines could prevent you from being hospitalized. Because of this, experts still have hope in the vaccines even though, of the 117 people who lost their lives to the variants, 50 were vaccinated.

A German Virologist, Christian Drosten, stated in a podcast for the NDR that though there were people who had previously been vaccinated twice, the real cause of death should be looked into and also reveal how the diagnosis was made. And according to the data presented to the public, all 50 people were over 50 years old.

Protection against the delta variant

The general rules of Covid-19 apply to this variant as well. Rules such as washing hands, using face masks, staying 5 feet away from people, and staying in properly ventilated areas. It is also advised to not travel, especially to the areas with the variants, as trips and coming into contact with people are amongst the biggest causes of the spread of the virus.

Overall, the public needs to follow the basic rules and regulations of the quarantine. And governments and individuals need to do their part to stop this variant from spreading.

What are the symptoms of the delta variant?

Based on the UK's ZOE Coronavirus symptom Study application, the symptoms of the delta variant are very different from those of the alpha variants and other variants of the virus. UK-based users of the ZOE app listed sore throats, fever, runny noses, coughing, and headaches as some of the symptoms they were suffering from.

These symptoms look very similar to those of a cold, and this makes people go about their normal lives, infecting others and spreading the virus without even knowing it. People with these symptoms should self-quarantine and get tested before going about their normal days.

Conclusion

The coronavirus disease (Covid-19) had strange origins and even stranger variants, spreading across the world like a wildfire and putting the whole world on pause. Luckily, humanity fights back, and we will keep fighting back even with this strange variant. Do your part, obey the quarantine rules, get vaccinated, and let's deal with this virus once and for all.


Source - Byo24News
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