The Delta variant of the Covid-19 is around 40-60% more transmissible than its predecessor Alpha variant, and has already spread to over 80 countries, including the UK, the US and Singapore, Dr N K Arora, Co-Chair, INSACOG has said.
Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium or INSACOG is a consortium of 28 laboratories of the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Dept. of Biotechnology, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) for whole-genome sequencing in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. INSACOG was established by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on 25 December last year.
Dr N K Arora said that the Delta variant has mutations in its spike protein, which helps it bind to the ACE2 receptors present on the surface of the cells more firmly, making it more transmissible and capable of evading the body’s immunity.
The B.1.617.2, a variant of the Covid-19, also is known as the Delta variant. It was first identified in October 2020 in India, and was primarily responsible for the second wave in the country, today accounting for over 80% of new Covid-19 cases. It emerged in Maharashtra and travelled northwards along the western states of the country before entering the central and the eastern states.
Dr N K Arora also said that are studies that show that there are some mutations in this variant that promote syncytium formation. Besides, on invading a human cell, it replicates faster. It leads to a strong inflammatory response in organs like the lungs. However, it is difficult to say that disease due to delta variant is more severe. The age profile and the deaths during the second wave in India were quite similar to those seen during the first wave. The Delta Plus variant—AY.1 and AY.2—has so far been detected in 55-60 cases across 11 states, including Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, and Madhya Pradesh. AY.1 is also found in countries like Nepal, Portugal, Switzerland, Poland, Japan but AY.2 is less prevalent. The variant is still being studied for its transmissibility, virulence, and vaccine escape characteristics.
He added that the current vaccines are effective against Delta Variant as per the studies were undertaken by ICMR on the issue.