Delta Plus variant has greater affinity towards lung tissues, says govt body head

Published on Jun 27, 2021 03:29 PM IST

The Delta Plus variant which was identified on June 11 was recently classified as a variant of concern by the Union health ministry on Tuesday.

Doctors check CT Scan of a COVID-19 patient at Government Institute of Medical Sciences (GIMS) in Greater Noida. (PTI Photo)
Doctors check CT Scan of a COVID-19 patient at Government Institute of Medical Sciences (GIMS) in Greater Noida. (PTI Photo)
By | Written by Shankhyaneel Sarkar | Edited by Poulomi Ghosh, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

The Delta Plus variant of Covid-19 has a greater affinity towards lung issues as compared to other strains, National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI) head Dr NK Arora has said, but it does not mean that it can cause severe lung disease or has higher transmissibility, he has clarified.

The Delta Plus variant which was identified on June 11 was recently classified as a variant of concern by the Union health ministry on Tuesday. India has detected 51 cases of Delta Plus across 12 states with Maharashtra reporting maximum cases. “Delta plus is having greater affinity to mucosal lining in the lungs, higher compared to other variants, but if it causes damage or not is not clear yet. It also does not mean that this variant will cause more severe disease or it is more transmissible,” Dr Arora was quoted as saying by news agency PTI. He also pointed out that the disease is generally mild in all those who have vaccinated with either a single or double dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.

Arora said that the number of identified cases of Delta plus variant could be higher as asymptomatic individuals with Covid-19 may be spreading the virus. He highlighted that there is a need to keep a very close watch on the spread to understand the transmission efficiency.

He said that it is important to note that the genomic surveillance component has picked up at the right time and early enough. Since the government has identified the variant of concern, it means that states can now take action based on data shared with them. State governments can make micro plans for districts where the virus has been identified in order to contain its spread.

Union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan has already written to chief secretaries of 7 states and a Union Territory on Friday sharing the names of districts where cases of Delta Plus variant has been found and asked them to initiate widespread testing, prompt tracing as well as vaccine coverage on a priority basis.

Dr Arora said that it is too early to assess whether the Delta Plus variant can trigger the third wave of Covid-19. He also said that if one observes closely, they can see that for the last 8-10 days the number of Covid-19 cases is stuck at 50,000 and some places are reporting higher numbers of cases. The wave has not settled down, Arora said.

Dr Arora said the second wave will influence the community’s response to another variant and the third wave will depend on what amount of the population were infected in the second wave. He highlighted that if a large proportion of people were infected then they may develop a 'common cold-like illness’ and may not develop any 'serious or fatal illness’.

Arora also said that vaccination is necessary to neutralise damages that the probable third wave of Covid-19 can cause. He said if vaccination can be coupled with appropriate usage of masks and strict adherence to Covid-19 preventative measures then the damage caused by the variant as well as the probable third wave can be effectively contained.

(with inputs from PTI)

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