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Delta Variant Of Covid-19 40-60% More Transmissible Than Alpha Variant: Govt Panel Chief

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New Delhi: Amid fears of possible third wave of Coronavirus, experts have expressed concern over the wide spread of Delta variant of Covid-19. N.K. Arora, the chief of the Covid-19 working group of the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization (NTAGI), in a statement on Monday said that the Delta variant is around 40-60 per cent more transmissible than its predecessor Alpha variant. 

Alleging that this variant has already spread to more than 80 countries, including the UK, the US, Singapore and so on, Arora said that 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. 

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Arora cited some studies showing 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 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,” said Arora, co-chair, Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG). 

The government panel chief further elaborated the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for testing and follow-up on variants and emphasised on the need to keep a strict vigil on the emergence of variants of concern and outbreaks so that they can be contained before they spread to a larger region.

Speeaking about the vaccines, the official assured that current vaccines are effective against Delta Variant “as per the studies undertaken by ICMR on the issue.” 

The Delta variant of Covid-19 was first identified in October 2020 in India. Experts are of the opinion that Delta variant was primarily responsible for the second wave in the country, which first emerged in Maharashtra and travelled northwards along the western states of the country before entering the central and the eastern states.

(With inputs from IANS)

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