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World Is a Deadly Surge of the Delta Variant Headed for the U.S.?

04:16  15 june  2021
04:16  15 june  2021 Source:   thedailybeast.com

The Delta strain isn't the only COVID-19 variant you're likely to hear about. Here's a list

  The Delta strain isn't the only COVID-19 variant you're likely to hear about. Here's a list The World Health Organization has renamed the different strains of COVID-19 to take on the first four letters of the Greek alphabet.Under the changes, the four most concerning variants take on the first four letters of the Greek alphabet — Alpha, Beta, Gamma and Delta.

The so-called Delta variant of the coronavirus, which was first detected in India and may carry double the risk of hospitalization compared to the Alpha—or U.K. strain—can cause unusual symptoms. Some people have reported hearing loss. Others, severe gastric distress. One Mumbai cardiologist reportedly treated two COVID patients with blood clots so severe, they required amputations of fingers or feet.

a table topped with a blue chair: Diptendu Dutta/Getty © Provided by The Daily Beast Diptendu Dutta/Getty

“Last year, we thought we had learned about our new enemy, but it changed,” Abdul Ghafur, an infectious disease physician at the Apollo Hospital in Chennai, India, told Bloomberg. “This virus has become so, so unpredictable.”

How the coronavirus Delta variant rampaged through India before spreading across the globe

  How the coronavirus Delta variant rampaged through India before spreading across the globe As Delta rampaged through India undetected, doctors were confounded by the sheer scale of the virus's spread. This is how the COVID-19 variant fuelled a calamitous surge in cases before slipping beyond the country's borders.Daily confirmed infections were in the low hundreds and serological surveys, which detect COVID-19 antibodies in the blood, suggested more than half the city's population had been infected after overcoming three surges.

The Delta variant has now made its way to more than 60 countries and is currently surging in the U.K., which decided to extend coronavirus restrictions amid the rise in cases. It comprises six percent of COVID-19 cases in the United States, and while the Delta variant’s spread in the U.S. is still relatively contained, it’s crucial to keep it that way, according to public health experts who spoke to The Daily Beast.

And the way to do it, each emphasized, is to get vaccinated. A new study found two doses of the Pfizer vaccine to be 88 percent effective against the Delta variant compared with 93 percent against the Alpha variant. For vaccinated people, having both shots provides as much as 96 percent protection against hospitalization from the Delta variant, according to the U.K. government.

Delta variant doubles risk of COVID hospital admission: Study

  Delta variant doubles risk of COVID hospital admission: Study New study finds evidence that protection from vaccines may be lower against the Delta variant than the Alpha variant.The study said early evidence suggested the protection from vaccines against the Delta variant, first identified in India, might be lower than against the Alpha variant, first identified in Kent, southeast England.

Nevan Krogan, a molecular biologist at the University of California, San Francisco, is now studying the Delta variant, following recent groundbreaking research on the Alpha strain.

“We’ve been working for a year and a half on the molecular understanding of this virus,” Krogan told The Daily Beast, explaining that his team found that the Alpha variant actually suppresses the body’s immune response “in a unique and scary way.”

The Delta variant has 18 known mutations, according to Krogan, who said the scientific community needs more data before it will be fully known if the new strain is more transmissible than others. However, he pointed out, it is important to understand how the virus is mutating to overcome our natural defense mechanisms.

“The vaccines seemingly do work against all these variants,” Krogan said. “The key number to look at, regarding all of the vaccines and all of the variants, is 100 percent—in keeping people alive, and for the most part, keeping people out of the hospital. The less we vaccinate, the more chance we give the virus to be transmitted from person to person, and more chance for the virus to mutate and overcome the strategies we have in place to combat it.”

virus variant Delta continues to increase in Germany - increase power experts are worried

 virus variant Delta continues to increase in Germany - increase power experts are worried The Coronavirus variant Delta discovered in India has significantly increased its share of SARS COV 2 new infections in Germany within a week. With 6.2 percent in calendar week 22 (May 31 to 6 June), it continues to remain relatively rare, it says in the recent report by the Robert Koch Institute (RKI). During the week earlier (kw 21), the proportion of the delta variant in the tested samples, including late entries, was 3.7 percent.

It’s hard to say why the Delta variant isn’t yet more prevalent in the U.S., although it almost certainly will start to be seen in larger numbers, warns Brian Cullen, a professor of molecular genetics at Duke and the founding director of the university’s Center for Virology.The Delta strain is “the most infectious variant by far,” Cullen told The Daily Beast, noting that larger numbers of people traveling between India and the U.K. could account for the Delta variant’s spread there versus the comparatively lower numbers in the U.S., which remains more heavily restricted to travelers.

“They consistently wait until the horse has bolted before they close the door [in the UK],” Cullen said. “They needed to jump on that a little faster."

Still, in all likelihood, Cullen foresees the Delta variant becoming a problem for Americans, specifically in areas in which large numbers of people have not been vaccinated.

Cullen thinks the Delta variant will present little danger to fully vaccinated people, who will normally “get rid of it before they have any symptoms,” and the partially vaccinated, who might find themselves, at worst, slightly infectious and mildly ill.

Why the new delta strain of coronavirus is a 'complete game changer'

  Why the new delta strain of coronavirus is a 'complete game changer' The dangerous new Delta variant of the coronavirus strain has been labelled a 'complete game changer' - with medical experts stressing mass vaccinations are vital in Australia.The Delta strain is far more infectious than the original virus that swept across the world last year and can be passed between people via nothing more than fleeting contact.

“The danger is that the unvaccinated population is a ‘reservoir,’ where mutations can accumulate,” said Cullen. “A vaccinated person will usually not generate a vaccine-resistant virus. If we get a mutation that does allow it to get partially around the vaccine, and it transmits from an unvaccinated person to a vaccinated person, that variant has a danger of becoming more prevalent.”

Vincent Racaniello, a professor of microbiology and immunology at Columbia University, points to the mass gatherings that occurred in India after the country came out of lockdown last month, which he said led to the emergence of the Delta variant.

Racaniello doesn’t think the U.S. is in great danger of enduring a new wave of deadly COVID infections due to the Delta strain. He also thinks it is unwise to put too much stock in the existing data about certain strains being “more contagious, more virulent.”

“I don’t think they have been well studied at all,” said Racaniello. “The problem with this pandemic is, information comes out really quickly and circulates. Variants displace other variants, and spread. The vaccines protect against moderate to severe disease, so I think the message is, the variants are not an issue if you’re vaccinated. People who are kind of on the fence about getting vaccinated: Get vaccinated.”

Indian Delta variant could create two Americas, experts warn

  Indian Delta variant could create two Americas, experts warn As of Friday, the Delta variant first identified in India accounted for 10 percent of new U.S. cases, but it is highly contagious, and the CDC expects it to dominate in a matter of weeks. Strong regional variations in vaccination coverage have emerged after doses were made available to all adults, with liberal states in the Northeast vaccinated at nearly double the rate of conservative strongholds in the Deep South. 'I call it two COVID nations,' Peter Hotez, a vaccine researcher at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, told BuzzFeed News.

Even though the existing vaccines appear to be extremely effective so far against all of the known COVID variants—including Delta—that “doesn’t mean they will keep doing well against variants we haven’t seen yet,” according to Siobhain Duffy, a professor at Rutgers University who studies viral evolution and mutation.

But, Duffy told The Daily Beast, developing updated versions of the vaccines to fight newly emergent variants won’t require scientists to start from scratch each time. The mRNA vaccines being used in the U.S. are very easy to update, she said, likening it to “cutting and pasting whichever spike protein you need to have a vaccine against.”

“We have experience that some diseases need updated vaccines frequently,” said Duffy, noting that the flu shot changes every year to reflect new strains. “COVID is a global problem. No matter how successful we are at vaccinating in the U.S., viral evolution anywhere is a threat to the health of Americans. Every single COVID infection is another chance for the virus to mutate and develop another variant of concern. The best way to make sure the vaccines keep working is to get our case rates as low as possible.”

Said Krogan, “We know so little about COVID on so many levels, we’re kind of throwing the kitchen sink at it right now. The virus has always been a few steps ahead of us. We need to get a few steps ahead of it.”

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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Delta COVID Variant Concerns Delay Israel Reopening to Travelers .
New outbreaks in Israel have been attributed to the more-infectious delta variant, which has caused the country to delay reopening to travelers.Israel began allowing groups of vaccinated tourists to enter in May, provided they were tested before boarding flights to Israel and had proof of vaccination.

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