The nature of subsequent Covid-19 outbreaks will depend on the new variants of the virus as one more strain called Delta Plus has emerged in a few states, said N.K. Arora, a member of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).
Briefing about the Delta Plus variant, Arora said that it has emerged in several parts of the country and around 52 cases have been reported, including one in Faridabad. He, however, added that there was still very little knowledge about this new strain.
“One more thing which is very clear about the Delta Plus variant is that its is very strong and it clings to the lungs. But it does not mean that transmission potential is very high.”
Arora said that the first case of Delta Plus variant was detected in April this year and the research studies conducted on the strain so far has not suggested much on its effectiveness and level of transmission.
“We need conduct more research to have more concrete results to augment our medical system for such patients. We have to understand that the emergence of new variants are not new things, variants will come with subsequent waves. What is more important to understand is the nature of the new variant, because its nature (transmission, effectiveness, etc) decides the overall situation of the Covid pandemic,” he said.
According to the Union Health Ministry’s report, cases of Delta Plus variant were detected in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala.
Elaborating further on Delta Plus, he said there are three parameters to check the effectiveness of a new variant — level of transmission; how will it affect the pandemic; and how it will respond to vaccines.
Arora said that each of the Covid-19 variants detected so far have been highly transmissible; however, effectiveness was very low.
He further explained that any virus which has more impact on pandemics and causes more deaths, dies soon.
“This is the natural fact that if a particular variant causes more deaths, then there is more possibility that it will end on its own. Because, it is a fight between the virus and the person and if the person died because of that particular virus, it cannot spread to other people and it will end on its own,” he explained.
The first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic in India started in late January 2020 with a peak attained in mid-September.
The first wave was relatively mild compared to the devastating second wave that started from mid-February 2021.
Arora further said that a major factor behind the deadly second wave was the emergence of more-infectious variants such as B.1.1.7 (Alpha variant) and B.1.617.2 (Delta variant), of which the latter has played a dominant role in recent months.
He added that the Delta Plus variant has also been isolated and cultured at the ICMR-NIV and laboratory tests are also being conducted to check the efficacy of vaccines.
Some more clarity will come on it by next one or two weeks, Arora noted.