Delta Variant Is Around 40-60% More Transmissible Than The Alpha Variant: Dr NK Arora

The Delta variant of the novel Coronavirus spreads faster than the Alpha variant, said Dr NK Arora, the Chief of National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization (NTAGI).

New Delhi: The Covid-19 working group of the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization (NTAGI) Dr NK Arora said that the Delta variant of COVID-19 is around 40-60% more transmissible than the Alpha variant. He said, “It is around 40-60 per cent more transmissible than its predecessor (Alpha variant) and has already spread to more than 80 countries, including India, UK, US, Singapore and others.”

Dr Arora explained the scientific reason for the higher transmissibility of the Delta variant. He said, “The Delta variant has mutations in its spike protein that helps it bind to the ACE2 receptors present on the surface of the cells more firmly, making it more transmissible and capable of evading the body’s immunity.”

The super spreading Delta variant was discovered in India last year in October. Experts have suspected the highly infectious Delta variant to be the primary cause of the second wave of COVID-19 in India. It is held accountable for over 80 per cent of the cases in the country. 

It emerged in Maharashtra and is suspected to have travelled northwards affecting the country’s western states before proceeding to towards the central and the eastern parts of the country. 

Currently, there is a significant decrease in the number of active cases in most parts of the country; some regions are still witnessing a high Test Positivity Rate (TPR). The north-eastern and southern states are experiencing a high TPR. 

According to a statement by the WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the spread of the Delta variant heightened due to the shortage of COVID-19 vaccines in India. 

Is the Delta Plus variant more severe than the Delta variant?

According to Dr Arora, “It is difficult to say that the Delta Plus variant is more severe.”

The Delta Plus variant – AY.1 and AY.2 has so far been found in 55-60 people across 11 states including Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, and Madhya Pradesh. AY.1 variant has been detected in countries like Nepal, Portugal, Switzerland, Poland, and Japan. The AY.2 variant, as of now, is less prevalent. 

INSACOG, a government panel involved in genome sequencing of Coronavirus, said, “Delta sub-lineages AY.1 and AY.2 are declining globally with near-zero cases in the last week of June in either the UK or US, where they were most frequently seen. They also continue to be below 1 per cent in available sequences from June in India. Neither AY.1 nor AY.2 is likely to be more transmissible than Delta.”

“The Delta variant (B.1.617.2) is the dominant lineage for new cases across India in recent samples and remains the most rapidly rising lineage globally”, added INSACOG.

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