All You Need to Know About the Delta Variant of COVID-19

Watch out! Among the multiple SARS-CoV-2 variants that are circulating globally, the Delta variant of COVID-19 is reportedly the most dangerous yet.

It is highly contagious.

Categorised as a Variant of Concern (VOC) by the World Health Organisation, this is the most contagious variant yet. This mutation has a 40 per cent higher transmission rate as compared to the alpha variant, which already had a 50 per cent higher transmissibility than the original COVID-19 strain. This makes the Delta strain two times more contagious than the virus that originated in Wuhan, China.  

The Delta variant was first found in India and has now reportedly been detected in 96 countries.

Headaches are the most common symptom

With the earliest strain of the Wuhan virus, persistent cough, loss of taste or smell, shortness of breath and fever were the most common symptoms to watch out for. However, headaches are the most reported symptom of the Delta variant followed by a runny nose, sore throat and in some cases, fever.  

There is a greater risk of hospitalization

It had been reported earlier that a majority of people who are infected with Coronavirus usually experience a mild or asymptomatic disease that can be treated at home. However, that is not the case with the new variant. 

According to Public Health England (PHE), the early evidence suggests there may be an “increased risk of hospitalisation” with Delta as compared to Alpha or the Kent variant of the virus. Meanwhile, a report in The Lancet has also stated that unvaccinated people who are infected with Delta are twice as likely to be hospitalized. 

Reinfection

It is still too early to confirm but an analysis of 874 cases of reinfection in the United Kingdom showed that only 96 cases were with the Delta variant. The PHE has said that 'overall and reinfections remain at very low numbers in individuals previously either PCR positive or seropositive' during the time Delta cases were rapidly rising.   

The COVID-19 vaccine may provide relief 

The COVID-protocol demands vaccinated people to continue wearing face masks raising questions about the efficacy of the vaccine. However, WHO's chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan has said, "The good news is that all of the WHO emergency use listed vaccines do protect against developing severe disease, hospitalization and death due to the Delta variant." 

Experts have advised that you need to get two doses of the vaccine to get the best protection against the virus.

It may have a lower fatality rate

As per early reports, the 'original' Coronavirus has a higher mortality rate as compared to the Delta strain. A technical briefing by PHE documented the Delta variant with a fatality rate of 0.1 per cent, while the fatality rate of the Alpha variant is 1.9 per cent.

Delta variant vs India

The Union Health Ministry has reportedly said that the Delta Plus variant is still “very localised” in India. According to the data provided by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), the Centre issued an update stating that a total of 48 cases of Delta Plus variant have been identified so far from more than 45,000 samples collected during April, May and June. 

However, healthcare authorities in some countries have reported a sub-variant of the Delta strain with additional mutations called the Delta Plus. The Delta Plus has caused at least 50 infections in India and been reported in 11 countries.

COVID-appropriate behaviour can keep you safer

The usual COVID-protocols also apply to the highly contagious COVID-variant. Double masking, social distancing, washing hands and face, not touching your face when outside and getting both doses of vaccination can keep you safer.