Delta variant accounts for 80 per cent of new Covid cases: Govt expert panel chief

New Delhi: The Delta variant was primarily responsible for the second wave of Covid in the country, accounting for over 80 per cent of new cases, Dr NK Arora, co-chair of Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium said, underlining that the cases may go up if a new, more infectious variant comes.

The variant is also around 40-60 per cent more transmissible than its predecessor, Alpha variant, and has already spread to more than 80 countries, including the UK, the US and Singapore.

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 and is still being studied for its transmissibility, virulence, and vaccine escape characteristics, Dr Arora said, according to a Union Health Ministry statement.

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, Dr Arora said.

“The B.1.617.2, a variant of Covid known as the Delta variant, was first identified in October 2020 in India, and was primarily responsible for the second wave in the country, today accounting for over 80 per cent of new Covid cases,” he said.

It emerged in Maharashtra and travelled northwards along the western states of the country before entering the central and the eastern states.

On whether it causes more severe disease as compared to other variants, Dr Arora said there 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 the disease due to delta variant is more severe. The age profile and the deaths during the second wave in India were quite similar to that seen during the first wave,” he stated.



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