Delta variant poised to become dominant strain worldwide (Photo by Noah SEELAM / AFP) via Getty Images)
POPPING across several countries across the world, the Delta variant is now raising fears that the strain may spearhead a new global wave of infection that is expected to overwhelm health care systems, reverse reopening plans and even potentially undermine the rollout of vaccines.
Apart from Britain, outbreaks of the Delta variant have been confirmed in 74 other nations including the US, China, Africa, Scandinavia and Pacific rim countries. This variant is said to be the most contagious one so far and appears to cause more severe symptoms, according to evidence seen from India and elsewhere, including stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, hearing loss and joint pain, as per scientists.
The Delta variant can also cause an increased risk of hospitalization in comparison to the Alpha strain, Public Health England suggests citing early data.
The variant cases now account for 90 per cent of Covid infections in the UK, health secretary Matt Hancock said recently, whereas in the US, its cases are doubling roughly every two weeks and now account for 10 per cent of all new cases, according to the former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb.
The Delta variant’s quick dominance in the UK is sparking concerns in the US as well with public health experts projecting that the highly transmissible variant will soon overtake the Alpha strain in the US to become the dominant there as well.
While health authorities around the world are collecting and sharing data on the spread of the new variant, the fear is that in countries in the developing world with less robust monitoring systems, the Delta variant may already have spread much further than has been reported.
During a press briefing on Thursday (10), World Health Organization’s Europe director Dr Hans Kluge said the delta variant has shown signs of being able to evade some vaccines and warned that many vulnerable populations, particularly those over age 60, remain unprotected.
B.1.617.2 strain is believed to have sparked the huge second wave in India over the past two months and is now a major cause of concern in the UK, even pushing back its reopening day by four weeks. A considerable spike in case numbers in the UK in recent days has prompted the government to deploy the military in the hardest-hit areas to help run the test-and-trace program.