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Why is the Delta-Plus variant called dangerous? Will the third wave come from it? What will happen to our drugs and vaccines?

Changing forms of corona virus are becoming increasingly dangerous. Further changes are taking place in the double mutant i.e. delta variant which has been blamed for another horrific wave in India. A new variant has also been found in Maharashtra. 

There have been seven cases of new variants for the first time. This variant has been reported not only in India, but in many countries. Scientists are calling it the Delta-Plus variant.

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Experts are warning that a third wave could hit Maharashtra in the next two-three weeks if caution is not exercised. The active case load in the third wave riding on the Delta Plus variant can reach eight lakh and 10% of these patients will be children.


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What are mutations and variants ?

Mutations are changes in the original genomic structure of a virus. This change gives the virus a new look, called a variant. Professor Dr. at the Christian Medical College, Vellore. Gagandeep Kang says it is normal for the virus to change. As the virus spreads, it will change from person to person.
Epidemiologist Chandrakant Lahariya says this is like a spelling mistake. These changes occur in the virus to avoid drugs and antibodies. This is natural, but if you want to stop the virus in an epidemic, you have to go two steps further. For this, it is very important to keep an eye on every change that is taking place in it.

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What is this Delta-Plus variant?

The double mutant strain of Corona virus B.1.617.2 found in India has been named Delta by the World Health Organization. Another mutation in B1.617.2 is K417N, which was previously found in beta and gamma variants of the Corona virus. The variant formed after the new mutation is called Delta + variant or AY.1 or B.1.617.2.1.
These variants with K417N mutations are more infectious than the original virus. Vaccines can weaken the effect of drugs as well. In fact, the delta variant (B.1.617.2) is derived from the B.1.617 lineage. There are two more variants of the same lineage - B.1.617.1 and B.1.617.3, in which B.1.617.1 has been listed by the WHO as a variant of interest (VOI) and named Kappa.

How many cases of this Delta-Plus variant have been found in India?

So far 7 cases of infection have been confirmed from the Delta-Plus variant. 5 Indian labs reported this variant to the Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data (GISAID) in May and June. Genome sequencing of more than 28,000 corona virus samples has taken place in India.
But from the number of reported cases it is difficult to understand how effective the variant is. It also depends on how many samples have been sequenced. In the UK, 4.66 lakh samples were sequenced and 45 got AY.1. Thus it was confirmed in 12 cases out of 5.49 lakh samples in the US. In comparison, only 5% (28 thousand) samples have been sequenced in India.

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Need to be intimidated by the Delta-Plus variant?

Not at present, Member of the Policy Commission (Health) Dr. V. That. Paul says that so far the Delta Plus variant has not become a variant of concern in India. Nor is it on the WHO's own VOC list. It has only been reported in India, on the same basis it has been reported to the Global Data System.
But Delhi Aims director Randeep Guleria told a TV channel last week that "we cannot take the virus lightly." We have to understand that the virus is changing. It wants to survive and infect as many people as possible. Lessons should be learned from the UK, where new cases are coming up as soon as the unlock begins. The Delta variant and its new look are infecting more people. If we are not careful, the Delta Plus variant will become a variant of concern for us as well. India should learn a lesson from the UK, where cases are on the rise.


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So could this be a cause for concern in the future?

Yes. We have recently encountered another dangerous wave due to the Delta variant. Cases are declining, but it could take another week of July for them to reach February levels. Delta variants were found in 33% of the 21,000 community samples received by the end of May. This variant is very different from the strain, against which pharma companies have developed existing vaccines. The test will have to be done to realize how effective this vaccine is on new variants.
Tests in the UK, South Africa and Brazil have shown that the vaccine is effective, but when tested against variants such as Delta, it has managed to produce few antibodies. The concern is that several new variants of the Delta variant have come up. It has emerged as a major variant in many countries, including India. Going forward, it could be a challenge in managing the epidemic in India.

Is our vaccine effective against these variants?

Yes. To some extent. The study was conducted by ICMR-NIV (National Institute of Virology) and CSIR-CCMB (Center for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad) in India. It tries to see the effect of covishield and covacin against the delta variant. The results show that antibodies are being made against the variant, but less than the antibodies being made against the original corona virus.


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Experts say that antibody levels are never the only marker of immunity. There is also very little evidence that the virus is spreading rapidly from the Delta-Plus variant. For this reason, the WHO does not currently list it as a variant of concern (VOC).

Of the 36 Delta-Plus patients found in England, 18 did not receive the vaccine. Only two people took both doses of the vaccine. The good news is that no deaths have been reported in these 36 cases. Thus only two of the Delta-Plus cases were 60+, meaning most of the cases are in people under 60 years of age.

Do existing drugs work on the Delta-Plus variant?

The K417N mutation involved in Delta Plus has raised concerns about the effects of the drugs. According to the database of CSIR-IGIB (Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology), this mutation has recently developed resistance against the developed monoclonal antibody treatment drug-casirivimeb and imdevimeb.
This new drug is given to high risk patients with moderate and severe symptoms. The drug is being marketed in India by Rosh and Cipla and has been approved by the Central Drug Standards Control Organization (CDSCO). The cost of one dose (1200 mg-600 mg casirivimeb and 600 mg-imdevimeb combined dose) is Rs.

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