'Not much data to suggest Delta Plus can cause more deaths': AIIMS director

By | Written by Sharangee Dutta | Edited by Amit Chaturvedi
Jul 01, 2021 12:21 PM IST

Talking about mixing of Covid-19 vaccine doses, Dr Randeep Guleria said that more data is needed before it can be said that the policy should be tried

The Delta Plus variant of coronavirus (Covid-19), which has been tagged as a “variant of concern” by the central government, has spread fear among the citizens of the country due to its higer transmissibility and resistance to some vaccines. However, AIIMS Director Dr Randeep Guleria said that if Covid appropriate behaviour is followed, “we’ll be safe against any of the emerging variants,” news agency ANI reported.

Dr Randeep Guleria, director of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS).(PTI photo)
Dr Randeep Guleria, director of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS).(PTI photo)

“There isn’t much data on the Delta Plus variant to suggest it’s more infectious, causing more deaths, or has developed a significant immune escape mechanism,” he was quoted as saying by ANI.

Guleria further stated that more data is required on “mixing of doses” as studies show that it may be effective. However, the AIIMS director clarified that more data is needed before saying that mixing of Covid-19 vaccine doses is a policy that should be tried.

His remarks come after a recent study led by the Oxford University revealed that alternating doses of the AstraZeneca and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines produce robust immune responses against the SARs-CoV-2 causing Covid-19. The researchers in the study, who are working to know the feasibility of using a different vaccine dose for the prime vaccination than the one used for the booster vaccination, discovered that mixing the doses of two different vaccines can generate stronger immunity.

The Delta Plus variant, which was first identified on June 11, and is a mutated form of the Delta variant, has so far been detected in 12 countries. In India, as many as 12 states and Union territories, including Rajasthan, Jammu and Kashmir, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, and Odisha, among others, have reported cases of Delta Plus variant. As of now, a total of 51 cases of the variant has been found in the country from 45,000 samples that were tested. Notably, Maharashtra accounts for the highest number of cases of Delta Plus of Covid-19, followed by Madhtya Pradesh and Kerala. Owing to the upward trend of cases related to the variant, Maharashtra has brought back restrictions and imposed three-level curbs instead of a five-level unlock, which was announced earlier.

Recently, National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI) head Dr NK Arora said that the Delta Plus variant of Covid-19 has a greater affinity towards lung problems though it does not mean that it can cause major disease or has higher transmissibility, news agency PTI reported.

“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,” he told PTI.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said that the more a virus circulates in a population causing infection, the chance of the virus mutating rises. The public health agency added that the more a virus spreads, the more it replicates, and has greater windows to undergo changes – also known as mutation.

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