Florence, 20 June 2021 – In the United Kingdom it has spread for some time, China adopts countermeasures after the cases identified, in Russia it determines 90% of new cases. There Delta variant for the moment it is not too bad for Italy, where it represents a very minority share in new Covid cases (under 1% against 80% of English variant), but the feeling that the pandemic is over can become a boomerang. because unfortunately it is not and what is happening in the world proves it. And to avoid a new wave in the autumn, there is only one weapon in our possession: vaccinating. A single dose is not enough, the cycle must be completed, then the immune defense is good with the vaccines already in circulation.
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What do we know
The family of the Delta variant is growing: the most widespread of the three versions in circulation so far, indicated with the initials B.1.617.2, now has a new version first identified in India, in the Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (Igib) of the Indian National Research Council, Csir. The new variant is called B.1.617.2.1, to underline the family bond with the one known so far, but for the sake of brevity it is indicated with the acronym AY.1. According to the Igib researchers, it is already widespread in some countries and has characteristics that could make it more resistant to both Covid vaccines and antibody-based therapies.
I’m three the most widespread versions of the Delta variant, currently present in a hundred countries and indicated with the initials B.1.617. It appeared in India in October 2020, at the same time as another similar but less aggressive variant, B.1.618. According to the terminology recently introduced by the World Health Organization (WHO), what is now the Delta variant in the international genetic databases has become a special supervised, i.e. one of the so-called Vocs (from the English Variant of Concern), i.e. the variants which, due to their characteristics, are of particular concern. Like all variants, Delta also accumulates mutations with relative ease, so much so that very soon it gave rise to a sort of ‘family, whose members are the three versions called B.1.617.1, B.1.617.2 and B .1.617.3. Of these, the most widespread is B.1.617.2, considered 60% more effective in transmitting than the Alpha variant thanks to some mutations, such as K417N, also present in Gamma variants, B.1.351 identified for the first time in Brazil and in the Beta identified in South Africa, and the E 484Q, also present in the Gamma variant. The variant B.1.617.2 has now in turn changed, developing a new version, indicated with the acronym B.1.617.2.1 or more simply AY.1. It has been identified in India, in the Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (Igib) of the Indian National Research Council, Csir. According to the Igib researchers, it would already be widespread in some countries and would have characteristics that could make it more resistant to both Covid vaccines and antibody-based therapies. To give it these properties would be the K417N mutation, also present in the Beta variant.
The warning / 1: resuscitators anesthetists
“Optimism is not part of the summer landscape for us resuscitators anesthetists. We are pleased that Covid deaths and hospitalizations have been reduced, but we’re not stupid enough to think it’s all over. The issue is much more complex and the country has it short memory. The Delta variant of Sars-CoV-2 ci worries, if in the meantime it is not understood that this is not a respite, but it can be the calm before the storm. Also because health needs have not decreased, indeed they have worsened. So, let’s not be superficial like last summer. Because frankly I believe that last year there was a lack of attention to the prudence that the ministry continued to recommend “. This is the reflection of Flavia Petrini, president of Siaarti (Italian society of anesthesia, analgesia, resuscitation and intensive care).
The warning / 2: virologists
Track, sequence and vaccinate to prevent the Delta variant from becoming the next Autumn also for Italy the problem that already represents in the United Kingdom today. To launch the warning in an interview with Adnkronos Salute is 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 Microbiology Laboratory of Asst Spedali Civili. “The Delta variant – confirms the expert – is even replacing the Alfa variant due to its high diffusibility” o ‘English‘of the pandemic coronavirus. “Certainly – reasoned the number one of Italian virologists – the more a variant spreads, the more it penetrates the population and the more it does damage. But at the moment this is a distant thought for us – he reassures – because we have been witnessing the presence of outbreaks in our country for some time, which, however, do not seem to be taking hold in an important way so far or exponentially “.
If for now, at the gates of the summer, “the fact that the coronavirus hopefully does not walk as in the autumn-winter or spring periods also plays in our favor”, the specialist reasons, if we do not act now with determination the super-transmissible mutant “could probably be a problem from September -October onwards. It is therefore necessary to continue to control it now to avoid what happened in England “, urges the president Siv-Isv. And “we must secure all subjects at risk with a complete vaccination – warns Caruso – so that the Delta variant, being after all also neutralizable by the antibodies evoked by vaccines” after 2 doses for products that require a booster, “may not find fertile ground in the population most at risk”.
The threshold of herd immunity rises
In light of the greater contagiousness of the Delta variant, the percentage of the population that needs to be vaccinated to achieve herd immunity increases to about 88%. “Since the Delta variant is about 60% more contagious than the Alpha variant, it is necessary to reach a higher percentage of vaccinated people. In this way, even if the Delta were to be dominant in September, it will not be dangerous for public health”, the physicist tells Ansa Roberto Battiston, of the University of Trento, coordinator of the Observatory of epidemiological data in collaboration with Agenas.
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