Photo: Pixabay
Photo: Pixabay

In recent weeks, the highly contagious Delta variant of COVID-19 has emerged as one of the biggest threats to nations. Dubbed a 'variants of concern' by the World Health Organisation, the strain first identified in India is now wreaking havoc around the globe. But while the world struggles to contain the ongoing pandemic, recent reports suggest that there might be worse yet to come.

According to expert, the UK is presently facing a third COVID-19 wave due to the highly infectious variant. Meanwhile, in the US, White House Chief Medical Advisor Dr Anthony Fauci recently warned that the Delta variant of the coronavirus is the "greatest threat" to America's attempt to eradicate the COVID-19 pandemic.

In India however, the Delta variant as we know it is not the only problem. The Delta plus variant is a further mutated version of the B.1.617.2 variant. This additional mutation (K417N) is also found in the Beta variant that was first documented in South Africa. It is believed to have been responsible for the massive surge in cases in that country.

With several cases having been recorded in parts of India, the Health Ministry on Wednesday dubbed Delta plus a 'variant of concern' and issued an advisory. According to official data, the new mutation has been found in genome sequenced samples from parts of Maharashtra, Kerala and Madhya Pradesh.

According to the Health Ministry, Delta plus has increased transmissibility, stronger binding to receptors of lung cells and potential reduction in monoclonal antibody response.

Keeping the situation in mind, the Health Ministry has urged state Chief Secretaries to take up immediate containment measures in identified districts and clusters. This includes preventing crowds, widespread testing, prompt tracing and vaccine coverage.

Earlier on Monday, Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope had said that 21 cases of the Delta Plus variant have been found in the state so far, including nine in Ratnagiri, seven in Jalgaon, two in Mumbai, and one case each in Palghar, Thane and Sindhudurg districts.

Maharashtra COVID-19 task force member Dr Shashank Joshi however took to Twitter on Wednesday to add that there is no sufficient data available to be alarmed about this variant.

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