How dangerous is the Delta variant of the coronavirus?

How dangerous is the Delta variant of the coronavirus?

All viruses have a natural tendency to mutate. This process occurs completely randomly, when changes occur in the genetic material of the pathogen – resulting in the production of new properties of the virus itself. In the case of SARS-CoV-2, a similar mechanism can also be observed.

One of the latest mutations of the coronavirus, which is of keen concern to epidemiologists around the world, is the so-called Delta variant (also called the Indian variant).

What is the Delta variant of coronavirus?

Most of the most recent SARS-CoV-2 virus infections registered worldwide are caused precisely by the Delta variant. This mutation was isolated relatively recently, which means that still not much is known about it. The complete guarantee of protection after receiving the vaccine or the likelihood of a severe course of the disease is still the subject of intensive research.

The Delta variant was first discovered in India in late 2020. This mutation is responsible for changes in the structure of the S protein S of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. In practice, this means an increase in its infectivity and a weakening of the effectiveness of antibodies produced in response to previous coronavirus variants. This translates into a sharp increase in infections and deaths. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Delta variant is more than twice as infectious as other coronavirus variants.

What’s more, the mutation is much more likely to affect young people. According to the CDC, recent weeks have shown an increase in hospitalizations in all age groups, with the largest increase in children and adults aged 18-49.

Symptoms of disease in Delta mutation

Symptoms of infection with the Delta variant in some cases differ from those typical of basic COVID-19. Characteristic symptoms, such as olfactory and taste disturbances, are much less common in the new Delta mutation.

The most common complaints are fever, runny nose and headache and sore throat. These symptoms affect more than 90% of cases infected with the new variant. In addition, symptoms typical of the basic variant of the virus, such as shortness of breath, diarrhea and rash, are also likely.

These ailments may resemble other viral infections, so it is particularly important to constantly monitor one’s health and be able to react quickly. If you experience symptoms resembling a coronavirus infection, it’s a good idea to test for COVID-19 – including the Delta variant – as soon as possible.

As the CDC suggests, infection with the new variant increases the risk of severe complications, such as pneumonia and acute respiratory failure, which can lead to the need for hospitalization.

Delta variant vaccine

Due to the S protein S mutation of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, the Delta variant is characterized by increased resistance to the antibodies produced – including post-vaccination antibodies. This is particularly true for people who have taken only the first of the two recommended doses of the vaccine. Studies show that receiving a single dose protects against a symptomatic course of infection caused by the Delta variant only 33% of the time.

Two weeks after receiving the full vaccination, this protection increases to 60-90% (depending on the formulation used).

Read: Coronavirus vaccine – everything you need to know

Delta variant in children

Given the alarming increase in statistics on hospitalized children, there has been concern that the Delta variant – relative to previous variants of coronavirus – is more dangerous for young people. Recent studies, however, show that the increase in infections is mostly in unvaccinated people – and it is children who make up the largest percentage of this group.

With previous coronavirus variants, susceptibility to infection and severity of illness depended mostly on age. However, incidence statistics confirm that in the face of the new mutation, it is vaccines – specifically, receiving both doses of them – that provide the most effective method of protection.

Coronavirus and its new variant have raised many concerns from the beginning. However, let’s remember that vaccination – and the recommended precautions and maintenance of the recommended social distance – is the primary weapon to fight the pandemic. We wish you good health!


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