what it is and what symptoms it causes

The World Health Organization is closely monitoring the Delta variant, which presents two mutations additional, the Delta AY.1 and AY.2. The first had already been identified in 9 countries including the US and the UK and had arrived in Italy in the summer (we talked about it here). Now the new Delta Plus AY.4.2 variant is also spreading, also already present in our country.

What do we know about the Delta Plus variant

The Delta Plus variant it has been classified as a “variant of concern” by Indian health officials, but WHO and Public Health England (PHE) continue to classify it within the expected figures for the Delta strain.

Delta Plus is believed to have originated in India, where it was first found. At the moment, in addition to Russia, several cases have already been recorded in at least 44 countries, in particular the United Kingdom, the United States, Denmark, Germany.

“We are all looking” at the variant situation of Sars-CoV-2 with the winter approaching, “to try to understand where the virus is going and what we could expect in the weeks and months to come” explained Marco Cavaleri, Vaccini manager and Therapeutic Products for Covid-19 from EMA, the European Medicines Agency, during a press conference. “Delta is still the dominant strain that is circulating and we are beginning to see that there are some additional mutations taking place, but currently in a few cases, on the Delta variant.”

In the meantime, just the EMA should begin the evaluation of the oral antiviral drug molnupiravir developed by the American Merck “next week”, which has been shown to reduce the risk of hospitalization and death in patients with mild or moderate Covid by about 50% (how it works we have explained here).

The new mutation AY.4.2 is one of the special observations, for example in the United Kingdom explains Cavaleri, where the cases in which it has been sequenced are on the increase, “and we have to monitor very closely”.

The modified variant was confirmed in the UK in April 2021 and the data reported by the PHE on September 24, 2021 shows that there have been a total of 176 Delta Plus cases so far. So we’re talking about meager numbers in absolute terms anyway.

The situation of Covid infections in Great Britain, Germany and Russia

In the UK, however, the situation is complicated and the number of new Covid infections has increased by 17.9% only in the last week, during which 327,537 infections were confirmed, while that of deaths registered a + 10.8% (912 deaths). The loosening of the measures, with the farewell to masks and spacing, triggered this spiral. But Boris Johnson goes straight on his way.

And what is the rest of Europe like? In Germany, the health system is preparing for a new spike in infections coming in the next few months. “The increase in the number of cases is expected to accelerate over the course of the fall and winter,” said the prestigious Robert Koch Institute, which predicts a significant increase in outbreaks in hospitals and retirement homes.

In Russia, stop at work (here how it stops) and Moscow returns to lockdown from Thursday 28 October, as announced by the mayor of the capital, Sergei Sobyanin. Only supermarkets and pharmacies will remain open to the public. Closing instead for bars and restaurants, as well as for all shops where non-essential goods are sold.

In short, Europe returns to face a new possible emergency, even if – it is always essential to reiterate it – with a high vaccination coverage and the maintenance of social measures (masks and distancing) we must not be fooled by easy alarmism as we often read in the headlines. news.

How contagious and dangerous is the Delta Plus

At the moment it is known that the variant Delta Plus has an even faster diffusion capacity than Delta and binds easily to lung cells. This new Delta sub-strain that contains an additional mutation could make it easier for the virus to infect individuals.

Furthermore, according to the first studies it would be potentially resistant to monoclonal antibody therapy (here everything we know about monoclonals).

The new Delta AY.4.2 variant has already arrived in Italy. “In Brescia we even saw 2 cases of it in a survey conducted at the end of August, and we were most likely the first to identify it. But since then we have more than 80 sequences deposited nationally “, explained to Adnkronos Salute Arnaldo Caruso, president of the Italian Society of Virology (Siv-Isv), full professor of microbiology and clinical microbiology at the University of Brescia and director of the Laboratory of microbiology of the Asst Spedali Civili. “Most of the notifications took place from mid-October, but this – specifies the expert – depends on the fact that now there is a need to monitor it. And looking for it, of course, you will find it ”.

Delta Plus variant, the symptoms

But what are the symptoms of the Delta Plus variant? At present, nothing suggests that the symptoms of infection with the Delta Plus variant are different from other Coronavirus strains.

The main symptoms are these and most people who contract symptomatic Covid develop at least one of these:

  • high temperature
  • persistent cough
  • loss or change in smell or taste.

Delta Plus variant, the effectiveness of vaccines

The other question worth trying to answer is whether the vaccines also work against the Delta Plus variant. Although it is too early to definitively say whether vaccines will be affected by this new strain, initial studies suggest that it is This mutation is unlikely to have much impact on their effectiveness.

A pre-press study, which has yet to be peer-reviewed, suggests the Pfizer vaccine effect is “Only modestly reduced” against the new strain, compared to the original Chinese SARS-CoV-2 virus. In the pre-press study that tested Pfizer vaccine against Delta Plus, scientists said it appeared that the mutation “did not lead to the virus escaping from the vaccine-induced neutralizing antibodies.”

Also according to the president of the Italian virologists Caruso, the variant AY.4.2 “it should create absolutely no problem with regards to vaccine efficacy”Anti-Covid available today.

More research is needed before we can say exactly how Delta Plus will impact countries, but early studies suggest the mutation will not be able to circumvent the protection offered by vaccines.

According to experts, existing vaccines appear to protect many people from severe Covid, but much higher levels of antibodies are needed to protect against Delta than the original virus strain, so they want specific vaccines for this variant.

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