A study has revealed that the Delta variant, which was first detected in India, is "more infectious" and is also the reason behind the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. At the same time, the newly named Delta variant continues to wreak havoc in several other nations. According to the Public Health England, B.1.6172 has now become the "dominant" strain in the UK.
PHE officials say that the variant has now overtaken the 'Kent variant', known as Alpha, as the most dominant in the UK. According to the study conducted by scientists of Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomic Consortia (INSACOG) and National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), the Delta variant is "50% more contagious than the Alpha strain". The study however states that the role of the Delta variant in more deaths and severity is not proved.
In the meantime, new laboratory data indicates that when compared against the original strain of COVID-19, people fully vaccinated with two doses of the Pfizer vaccine are likely to have more than five times lower levels of neutralising antibodies against the Delta variant.
"The B.1.617 lineage of SARS CoV-2 has been first reported from Maharashtra but now seen in other states like West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Delhi, Gujarat, Telangana," the study explains. But while it has now spread to all states, it is mostly people in Delhi, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Odisha, and Telangana, that were the worst hit in the second surge.
INSACOG, which is the consortium of labs undertaking genome sequencing in India, has recommended stringent measures to be taken by the Union Health Ministry and NCDC that are to be communicated to all the states and union territories and not just the high burden states.
(With inputs from agencies)