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What is the Indian strain of Delta coronavirus and should we be afraid of it

The Indian strain of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus (B. 1. 617, or the “Delta” variant) is rapidly spreading around the world. This version — or mutation — was first discovered in India in October 2020. Since then, researchers have identified three subtypes, known as B. 1. 617. 1 (the “original” B. 1.617), B. 1.617.2, and B. 1.617. 3.Each of which has a slightly different genetic composition.

On June 18, 2021, the WHO announced that Delta is becoming the dominant variant of the disease worldwide.

Some countries have imposed restrictions on international communication with countries with a confirmed outbreak. The European authorities are urging even vaccinated people not to go to London for the Euro 2020 matches.

Indian coronavirus strain: more dangerous

Viruses are constantly mutating. Some variants may be more contagious. To avoid being tied to any territory and the associated negative associations, WHO has introduced letter designations for new dangerous virus strains: alpha (British), beta (South African), gamma (Brazilian), delta (Indian). In May, in connection with the spread of the “Delta” variant, WHO ranked it among the variants of viruses “of concern”.

In May 2021, in genomic analysis of the strain B. 1.617, Indian scientists from the National Institute of Virology (NIV) identified eight mutations in the spike protein of the virus, thanks to which it penetrates cells. Two of them allow the virus to spread at a higher rate. The third mutation is similar to that of the Brazilian strain P. 1 (variant “gamma”) and helps the virus partially escape from immunity.

British experts believe that B. 1. 617. 2 is 50% more contagious. German virologists have received similar data — “Delta” spreads faster and more effectively escapes the action of antibodies.

When one variant spreads faster than the others, this may be caused not only by the greater contagiousness of the strain but also by differences in the distance between people and different levels of vaccination. For example, in the UK, it was noted that in the most affected areas, a very small proportion of residents work from home.

Indian coronavirus strain: what are the symptoms

In addition to the features associated with the spread and resistance to immunity, the “Delta” variant turned out to be peculiar in terms of symptoms. Those infected do not have the usual loss of smell for the coronavirus.

There are three characteristic symptoms:

— headache,
— sore throat,
— runny nose.

Fever and cough may be added to this. Therefore, those infected with a new strain of coronavirus often take it for a common cold.

The new strain of the virus is dangerous. According to the World Health Organization, Delta has also been proven to be more deadly or more resistant to modern vaccines and treatments.

Experiments on hamsters conducted in the spring of 2021 at the NIV showed that “Delta” causes more severe pneumonia than infection with other variants of the virus.

Indian coronavirus strain: the best way to get vaccinated

Vaccination is still the best means of preventing infection and complications caused by this virus.

The almost unanimous opinion of scientists and doctors is that all the developed vaccines work against the “Delta” variant. With some slight decrease in effectiveness, all the leading vaccines (BioNTech (Pfizer), AstraZeneca) remain highly effective methods of preventing coronavirus infection.

Thus, a study by Public Health England showed that double doses of AstraZeneca or Pfizer vaccines provide a high level of protection against “Delta”. Although somewhat smaller than for the previous version of the virus. Similar data were obtained in June by an international team of virologists.

Presumably, Pfizer-BioNTech is 88% effective against symptoms in case of infection. AstraZeneca is 92% successful in preventing hospitalization due to the delta variant. It is confirmed that the probability of complications and hospitalization is significantly reduced after vaccination.

A vaccine from any manufacturer is guaranteed to ease the disease. In several countries (Israel, Italy, Malaysia, UAE) mandatory vaccination of a number of population groups has already been introduced.

WHO calls on countries to share the vaccine with other countries where there is a shortage, in order to protect the most vulnerable category of people.

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