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  • 27 June, 2021

  • 9 Min Read

Delta Plus variant of COVID-19

Delta Plus variant of COVID-19

What is the Delta variant? How is it different from the Delta Plus variant? Why has it become a global concern?

  • A mutant variant of SARS-CoV-2, B.1.617.2 is now named the Delta variant. It has mutations in its spike protein, which makes it more transmissible and able to evade immunity.
  • It has already spread to 80 countries across the world. After India, now it is spreading fast in the U.K., some States in the U.S., Singapore and southern China.
  • When the Delta variant develops additional mutations of possible importance, it is called Delta Plus.
  • As of now, the K417N mutation, which was previously seen in the Beta variant, is what people usually mean when they say Delta Plus.
  • This is not a Delta/Beta hybrid, but a case of convergent evolution where mutations develop independently. The more correct name is AY.1 or AY.2.

How does mutation impact the efficacy of the vaccines? And what leads to mutation in a virus?

  • Some mutations on the virus’s spike protein may not allow the antibodies developed after immunisation to bind to it. In such cases, the mutant can escape the immunity and cause disease.
  • So far, currently available vaccines are efficient to prevent severe disease by mutants but have reduced effectiveness in preventing infection.
  • When a virus multiplies in a host’s body, it makes millions of copies. But some copies are not perfect replicas, they develop some differences, which are termed as mutations.
  • The ability to escape human immunity makes some mutations advantageous. These may then propagate better than parent lineages.

What are double mutations or triple mutations in a virus? Does India track mutations through genome sequencing? Why is it important?

  • These are wrong choices of words used to oversimplify things. All current lineages carry many mutations. But only a few mutations, which lead to more infections or increase the severity of the disease, matter.

What is the difference between a strain and a variant of a virus?

  • Technically, it is one strain until there is a very major change in the virus, which is not yet the case. Variant or lineage is a better word to describe mutations in a virus that are leading to the changes being seen.

Source: TH


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