As the world is going through the second wave of Covid-19, some areas either have seen the surge or decline in positive cases. Either way, the virus is still relevant in almost every corner of the world. With each passing day, the virus to has been mutating itself to form new variants. One such variant is of the lineage B.1.617 which is known as the Delta variant or B.1.617.2 which could be termed as the trigger for India’s second wave in 2021.
Even though it can be said that the particular variant’s terror has somewhat diminished in India as the world enters June, it cannot be said the same for various other countries. The variant seemed to now have started affecting countries like England where 61% of the samples sequenced are now of the Delta variant (B.1.617.2). The World Health Organization has termed it more transmissible than the Alpha variant which triggered the first wave in 2020. According to a study by an Indian government panel, the Delta variant is 50 per cent more contagious than the Alpha variant.
Variants are differentiated by their alternations of the genetic materials. An RNA virus, such as SARS-CoV-2, is made of about 30,000 base pairs of amino acids, placed like bricks next to each other. An alternation of such positioning causes the mutations of the virus which affects its characters and behaviour. The Delta variant contains multiple mutations in the spike protein. At least four mutations are important.
The Delta variant also came in with unusual symptoms such as hearing impairment, severe gastric upsets and blood clots, leading to gangrene are being reported from positive patients. This variant has been reported in over 60 countries including the UK, US, Fiji, Singapore and Australia.
Researchers stated that the increase in hospitalised patients was also due to the blood clots that the Delta variant triggered in the chest of an infected person without any history of coagulation-related problems.
Heath Organisation and doctors as well are also worried about the rate of household transmission and of children rather than individual transmission which was prevalent in the year 2020.
One good aspect amidst this grim news is that both the AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines still work relatively well against it, although only after the second dose.
Visuals by: Kunal Kaustav Duwarah
Article by Puhar Pallab, The North-Eastern Chronicle