May 23, 2022

Coronavirus: Delta variant causes more severe infections, here's everything we know about the 'Variant of Concern' – Times of India

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In the past one month, COVID-19 has taken a severe toll on India’s population and its medical infrastructure. It has not only wreaked havoc in the lives of millions, but also caused irreparable damage to the country’s self-esteem.
While many currently make their way back to a partial normalcy, doctors and medical professionals are concerned about the new range of symptoms associated with COVID-19’s Delta variant, not categorised as a Variant of Concern (VOC) by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Read more: Coronavirus triple mutant variant: A new COVID variant detected in India, can cause lung lesions, weight loss
The Delta variant, scientifically termed as B.1.617.2 of the COVID-19 infections, refers to the merging of two mutations of a virus strain that go on to form a third, super infectious strain. The B.1.617 variant contains mutations from two separate virus variants, namely E484Q and L452R.
With the help of genome sequencing and sample testing, the first case of double mutation in India was discovered in the state of Maharashtra. Earlier lab results reported a sharp rise in the E484Q and L452R mutations since December.
The variant, which was earlier called the ‘double mutant’ virus or the ‘Indian variant’, was officially assigned the name ‘Delta variant’ by the WHO, in order to avoid any confusion regarding the same. That said, the first mutant virus detected in Kent, UK, is now called ‘Alpha’, whereas the South African and Brazillian Variant are known as ‘Beta’ and ‘Gamma’ respectively.
While there is no solid evidence, experts and medical professionals believe that the recent surge in the number of COVID-19 cases in the second wave could be attributed to the Delta variant. That, in addition to lax precautions, could have been factors that drove the increase in the number of COVID hospitalisation and deaths.

Read more: Coronavirus: Double mutant is the most common COVID variant in India, as per India’s genome data
Given that the delta variant carries the genetic code from two other mutations, E484Q and L452R, it becomes all the more easy for it to break into the human immune system and invade the organs. Additionally, as the new variants tend to alter the structure of the spike protein, it is more efficient in attaching itself to the human host cells and multiplies swiftly, doing more damage than an originally COVID strain.
As per recent reports, doctors suggest that the Delta variant, which apparently drove the second wave of COVID-19, is “more severe”. Hearing loss, severe gastric problems and blood clots causing gangrene have been associated with the Delta variant by doctors in India. According to a study conducted by researchers from the University of New South Wales recently, no such symptoms were reported in COVID patients infected with the ‘Beta’ and ‘Gamma’ variants.
As of now, the Delta variant has been reported in over 60 countries. In the United Kingdom, the Delta variant has led to more hospitalisation in COVID patients than before.

Read more: Coronavirus: 5 critical COVID signs and symptoms that demand hospitalization
Medical experts believe that the Delta variant could be the reason behind increased hospitalised patients. Multiple cases of blood clot formation in the chest of the severe COVID patients without any past history of coagulation-related problems have come to the surface. In addition to that, doctors have also identified clots in the blood vessels linked to the intestines, resulting in severe stomach pain.
Though there has been no concrete evidence to suggest that the vaccines are effective against the variants, there has been none to prove otherwise either. Since the new strains of the virus have the ability to evade immune responses, there are chances that the vaccines may not be very effective against them.
However, as of now, getting vaccinated is the only way we can protect ourselves and others from the deadly virus. While the vaccines may or may not prove effective against the variants, it has surely minimised severity and mortality rate associated with the infection.
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