From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Delta plus variant
Mains level : COVID
The Maharashtra government has tightened the Covid-19 unlocking process in the wake of a rise in cases of the Delta Plus variant.
What is Delta Plus?
- A variant that has emerged as a new threat, especially in India, Delta Plus (B.1.617.2.1/(AY.1) is a new mutant strain of the Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2.
- It is technically the next generation of SARS-COV-2.
- The Delta variant that was first detected in India eventually became a huge problem for the whole world.
- However, the Delta Plus variant, at present, is limited to smaller areas in the country. This mutant of Delta was first detected in Europe in March 2021, but it came to light on June 13.
- Although it is still under investigation, experts believe that the Delta Plus variant has increased transmissibility.
What is known so far?
- The new Delta plus variant has been formed due to a mutation in the Delta or B.1.617.2 variant.
- Delta Plus (AY.1) is resistant to monoclonal antibodies cocktail.
- Since it’s a new variant, its severity is still unknown.
- 63 genomes of Delta (B.1.617.2) with the new K417N mutation have been identified by the GISAID (global science initiative) so far.
- The mutation is in the spike protein of SARS-COV-2, which helps the virus enter and infect the human cells.
- People reported symptoms like headaches, sore throats, runny noses, and fever.
Are COVID-19 vaccines effective against the Delta Plus variant?
- Medical experts say it is too early to predict the effectiveness of the existing vaccines on the new variant.
- A detailed study would be required to establish any effect of the mutant on the immune system.
- However, Union Health Ministry says that both Indian vaccines — Covishield and Covaxin are effective against the Delta variant.
- There is fear that this new variant Delta Plus may spark the third wave of COVID-19, but there is a very low incidence of such cases, so there is no certainty.