Odisha: Health Experts Take Note of Deogarh’s Lone Delta+ Variant Case

Even as India grapples out of the calamitous second wave, medical experts across the country have already started raising the proverbial red flag about a Delta+ variant of the coronavirus. Responding proactively to the first confirmed case of the strain, Odisha’s health department sent a three-member team to Deogarh – where the lone case was discovered – to take stock of the situation.

During the prevalence of the second wave in the state, the Delta (B.1.617.2) variant was the predominant strain, with 713 out of 1,150 sequenced (62%) in March to May attributed to the variant. So far, the state has found only one Delta Plus (B.1.617.2.1/(AY.1), a mutant of Delta. Ajay Parida, who heads the Institute of Life Sciences as director, said that the Delta+ might not be as threatening as it is being thought of presently. “Just one man tested positive for the new strain in April. If it were so transmissible, more cases would have been found in the past more than two months,” Parida said.

The 65-year-old man, who tested positive on April 24, had already taken the first dose of the Covishield vaccine on 30th March. After his genome sequencing was done, it was found that his genome contained the Delta+ variant. The vaccine may have given a level of protection against the virus, as he was mostly asymptomatic. Incidentally, Deogarh happens to be the district with the least number of COVID-affected patients and associated deaths.

Bramhadev Pattnaik, another noted virologist, however, warned of the third wave that could be primarily propagated due to the several mutations of the Delta variant. “The danger looms. It’s a matter of time before the third wave comes. The only difference between third and second waves would be more vaccinated people. The situation will depend on whether vaccines are able to protect,” he said.

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