The World Health Organization (WHO) had declared on June 1 that only one strain of the B.1.617 variant of Covid-19 found in India is a Variant of Concern (VoC). The strain — B.1.617.2 — was termed the Delta variant.
Three strains of the B.1.617 variant, which was first found in India, have been detected — B.1.617.1, B.1.617.2 and B.1.617.3.
WHO had declared all three strains of B.1.617 as VoC in the second week of May. However, now the WHO has demoted B.1.617.1 or Kappa variant as a Variant of Interest (VoI). Since very few reports of B.1.617.3 strain emerged, it has not even been considered a VoI.
Delta variant could be responsible for second wave in India
- The Delta variant which is “more infectious” than the Alpha variant is the “primary cause” behind the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, as per a study by the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Consortium on Genomics (INSACOG).
- B.1.617 variant & its lineage B.1.617.2 (Delta) were primarily responsible for the surge in cases with high transmissibility of 50 per cent more than the Alpha variant (B.1.1.7), said the study.
- The Delta variant is present in all states across India but has infected people mostly in Delhi, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Odisha, and Telangana, which were the worst hit in the second surge.
- The study also states that the role of the Delta variant in more deaths and severity is not proved.
- Genomic variants of various viruses are a natural phenomenon and are found in almost all countries.
Delta now dominant VoC in United Kingdom
- The Delta variant has now become the dominant Variant of Concern (Voc) in the United Kingdom.
- Health officials in Britain have said that Delta may also come with an increased risk of hospitalisation compared to the Alpha VoC which was first detected in Kent, England.
- According to Public Health England (PHE), which monitors all
COVIDvariants in the country, Delta variant infections rose by 5,472 in a week to hit a total of 12,431 on June 3.
- The latest statistics have led experts to conclude that Delta is now closing in to overtake Alpha.
- The majority of the patients infected by the Delta variant had not been vaccinated, PHE said.
- The areas most affected by the Delta variant remain in the north west of England with Bolton, where cases increased by 795 to 2,149. In Blackburn, Darwen recorded 368 new cases, bringing its total to 724.
- However, the PHE said there are “encouraging signs’” that the transmission rate in Bolton has begun to fall.
Delta VoC found in Australia’s Melbourne
- The Australian city of Melbourne has detected two Variants of Concern (VoC) first found in India, namely Kappa and Delta.
- While Kappa is said to be responsible for the latest surge in cases, Victoria state authorities on Friday said that they have detected the Delta VoC for the first time in Melbourne.
- Victoria state chief health officer Brett Sutton said the new variant had not been linked to any sequenced Covid-19 infections across Australia from hotel quarantine or elsewhere.
- Sutton said that it was a concern that it is not linked to other cases but the authorities are chasing primary cases to look where it might have been acquired.
- The Delta variant was detected in two members in a family who travelled to the neighbouring state New South Wales (NSW) two weeks ago.
- While likely infectious, the two visited several tourist locations. However, NSW, Australia’s most populous state, has not reported any locally acquired cases in a month.
Renaming Covid-19 variants: Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta & Kappa
The World Health Organisation (WHO) renamed five Covid-19 variants earlier this week by recognising them through Greek alphabets instead of their country of origin.
- The VoC which first appeared in Britain and can be also known as B.1.1.7, is now known as the “alpha” variant.
- The second, which turned up in South Africa and has been referred to as B.1.351, is now known as the “beta” variant.
- A third variant that first appeared in Brazil will be called the “gamma” variant.
- The variant B.1.617, first found in India, is split into sub-lineages, of which the B.1.617.1 is now known as ‘Kappa’. The B.1.617.2 is now called ‘Delta’.
(With inputs from agencies)