Delta variant ‘primarily responsible’ for Covid-19 second wave, says govt expert
The Delta variant (or B.1.617.2 strain) of the coronavirus was “primarily responsible” for the second wave of Covid-19 in India, Dr NK Arora, co-chair of the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG) said on Monday. He further said that the vaccines currently in use for the immunisation were effective against the variant, citing studies by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).
“B.1.617.2, a variant of Covid-19 is known as the Delta variant. It 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-19 cases. It emerged in Maharashtra and travelled northwards along the western states of the country before entering the central and the eastern states,” Dr Arora said.
Currently, the variant has spread to more than 80 countries across the world, including the US, the UK and Singapore, and is around 40 per cent to 60 per cent more transmissible than the Alpha variant, Dr Arora further said.
“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 first wave,” he added.
The health expert said that the vaccines that are currently used for the immunisation program in India are effective against the variant.
He also warned about a possibile emergence of a new variant of coronavirus. “The cases may go up if a new, more infectious variant comes. In other words, next wave will be driven by a virus variant to which significant proportion of population is susceptible,” Dr Arora said.
Dr Arora also said that vaccination and following Covid appropriate behaviour were needed to manage the pandemic and also to control and delay future waves of the disease.