Is Delta Plus variant more dangerous?

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Beneficiaries stand in a long queue to receive a dose of COVID-19 vaccine at Primary Health Centre (PHC) Wazirabad, in Gurugram on Wednesday. (ANI Photo)

Not much data on Delta plus variant to suggest it’s more infectious, causes more deaths, says AIIMS director but states taking action for protection

Our Bureau
New Delhi

The Director of All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Delhi, Dr Randeep Guleria on Thursday said that there is not much data available on the Delta plus variant to suggest that it is more infective or has a higher rate of mortality. He advised that if people follow COVID appropriate behaviour and take the COVID-19 vaccination, then they will be safe against any emerging variant.

“There isn’t much data on Delta plus variant to suggest it’s more infectious, causing more deaths, or has developed significant immune escape mechanism. But if we follow COVID appropriate behaviour and get vaccinated, we’ll be safe against any of emerging variants,” Dr Guleria said.

On Doctor’s Day, the AIIMS director also remembered the health care workers who lost their lives during the COVID pandemic. “Doctors are fighting for the last one year and we should appreciate their work. We should also remember those who sacrificed their lives. While remembering them, we should create a situation where the cases do not increase further. We should follow COVID appropriate behaviour and should also adopt vaccination so that there should be less strain on the doctors and the hospitals,” he added.

Dr Guleria also raised the issue of violence against doctors and added that it is demoralizing for the medical community. “We should appreciate and respect the work doctors are doing and should condemn violence against doctors. It is a very big threat which is demoralizing for the medical community,” the AIIMS director said.

A healthcare worker holds a bottle containing doses of COVID-19 vaccine at a private hospital, in Bengaluru on Tuesday. (ANI Photo)

But, with cases of Delta Plus variant of COVID-19 coming to light, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Tuesday ordered extension of the coronavirus restrictions till July 10, with certain more relaxations, including the opening of bars, pubs with 50 per cent capacity, beginning July 1.

Skill development centres and universities have also been allowed to open with conditions that staff and students must have taken at least one dose of vaccine. IELTS coaching institutes were already allowed to be opened, subject to students and staff have taken at least one dose of vaccine, the press release said. Announcing the relaxations at a high-level Covid review meeting, the Chief Minister made it clear that the bars, pubs and that as would have to strictly maintain social distancing protocols, and waiters/ servers/other employees should have taken at least one dose of the Covid vaccine. He made it clear that it would be the responsibility of the owners to ensure that the conditions are met.

Expressing satisfaction over the decline in positivity to less than 1 per cent, with an overall fall inactive cases, the Chief Minister noted that the positivity rate in some districts still remained over 1 per cent. Further, the finding of Delta plus variant was a matter of concern, making it essential to continue with the curbs, he stressed.

Meanwhile, the National Institute of Health (NIH) in the United States has found that Bharat Biotech’s COVAXIN vaccine generates antibodies that effectively neutralize both Alpha and Delta variants of COVID-19. The top health research institute said that an adjuvant developed with funding from the NIH has contributed to the success of the “highly efficacious” COVAXIN COVID-19 vaccine, which roughly 25 million people have received to date in India and elsewhere. “Results from two studies of blood serum from people who had received COVAXIN suggest that the vaccine generates antibodies that effectively neutralize the B.1.1.7 (Alpha) and B.1.617 (Delta) variants of SARS-CoV-2, first identified in the United Kingdom and India, respectively,” NIH said in a statement.

The adjuvant used in COVAXIN, Alhydroxiquim-II, was discovered and tested in the laboratory by the biotech company ViroVax LLC of Lawrence, Kansas with support exclusively from the NIAID Adjuvant Development Program, NIH said.

The adjuvant comprises a small molecule attached in a unique way to Alhydrogel, a substance frequently called alum that is the most commonly used adjuvant in vaccines for people. “Ending a global pandemic requires a global response,” said Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), a part of NIH. “I am pleased that a novel vaccine adjuvant developed in the United States with NIAID support is part of an efficacious COVID-19 vaccine available to people in India.”

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