The Delta Plus variant has been formed due to a mutation in the Delta or B.1.617.2 variant, which was first identified in India
Amid worries of a possible third COVID wave, the new Delta Plus variant has been detected in at least five Indian states and nine countries across the world over spurring fears of a faster spread.
The health ministry said studies showed that the Delta Plus or the AY.1 variant, which traces its lineage to the Delta variant currently a cause of worry across the world, spreads more easily, binds more easily to lung cells and is potentially resistant to monoclonal antibody therapy, a potent intravenous infusion of antibodies to neutralise the virus.
The Delta Plus variant has been formed due to a mutation in the Delta or B.1.617.2 variant, which was first identified in India and has since spread to many parts of the world. The delta variant is more infectious and vaccines are slightly less effective against it.
The new Delta Plus variant has been found in the US, UK, Portugal, Switzerland, Japan, Poland, Nepal, China and Russia.
However, many experts have said that there’s not enough scientific evidence yet to prove that the variant was more infectious or led to more severe disease compared to other variants.
Regardless of the questions around the potency of this new variant, the state and Central governments have decided to play cautious after the devastating second wave, which was possibly a result of the unchecked spread of the Delta variant.
The government has not made any changes to its health advisory as of yet, stating that the usual COVID-appropriate behaviour is effective against all new mutations detected so far, However, it has ramped up efforts to watch the spread of this new strain closely.
Here are the key steps were taken by Central and state governments to prevent the spread of the Delta Plus variant.
- The Union health ministry advised Maharashtra, Kerala and Madhya Pradesh on the presence of the Delta Plus variant, which has been pegged as a ‘variant of concern’ in certain districts of these states.
- The Union government has also instructed these states to strengthen their containment and testing efforts with renewed focus and carry out surge vaccinations.
- According to the Union health ministry, the Centre has asked states to deploy the sentinel surveillance system. States have identified five laboratories and five tertiary care hospitals as sentinel sites, and each is expected to send 15 samples routinely to designated regional genome Sequencing Laboratories (RGSLs). A sentinel surveillance system involves testing people randomly across the community, including those who are asymptomatic, in order to discover unseen transmission.
- The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and the National Institute of Virology (NIV) will also to conduct a study to examine the potency of the ‘Delta Plus’ variant of COVID-19 in patients.
- Three villages in Kerala have been shut, at least for a week, after a genome sequencing study found presence of highly infectious Delta plus variant in some of the Coivd-19 patients, Hindustan Times reported.
- Delhi government is setting up a new genome sequencing laboratory, to identify variants of coronavirus, is likely to start at the Delhi government’s Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan (LNJP) Hospital by the first week of July.
- In Maharashtra, state health minister Rajesh Tope announced that 100 samples from each district will immediately be sent for genome sequencing.
- Officials in Karnataka on Wednesday said the government was carefully monitoring the emergence of new variants and six more genome labs would be set up in the state. The state is also reportedly planning to get genome sequencing of at least five percent of samples that test positive for COVID-19.
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