Based on the available scientific evidence, “We estimate that the Delta variant by the end of August will account for 90% of all SARS-CoV-2 viruses circulating in the European Union ‘. So yesterday the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (Ecdc) raised the alarm on mutations B.1.617.1 and B.1.617.2, in an updated opinion on the risk of Covid variants.
Delta variant, alarm from the Regions: “Few vaccines and the virus is growing”
Delta variant: data, fears and vaccines
The former Indian, renamed Delta, in other words is really scary. First of all because, what until recently was only a suspicion of scholars, is proving true day by day: it is more transmissible than the other variants. According to a study by Public Health England (Phe) the risk of domestic transmission is 60% higher than with the Alpha variant (or English) which is currently largely prevalent in Italy. At this point, however, it won’t be for long. In fact, the Delta is spreading across the Peninsula at an exponential rate: from 1% recorded on 18 May by the Istituto Superiore di Sanità, up to 3.4% reached in mid-June and 9% a few days later.
Not only. According to data released two weeks ago by Phe, the variant would also be associated with a risk of hospitalization up to 2.6 times higher than Alpha. And as if that weren’t enough, in a recent interview with the New York Times, a medical researcher from the Chinese University of Guangzhou said that ex Indian variant leads 12% of patients to become seriously ill within 3 or 4 days of the onset of symptoms. It is that is more aggressive given that with the strains known so far, the percentage was 2-3% and only occasionally it reached up to 10. Among the most frequent symptoms there would be stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, headache, cold, fever, loss of appetite and joint pain.
However, it must be specified how, at least from the first data made available by the English health service, the vaccines appear to be effective against Delta. However, two doses are needed to have a 96% chance of counteracting the serious effects of Covid (in the case of Pfizer) or 92% in the case of AstraZeneca.
Delta variant, record infections in GB: over 16,000 in 24 hours. Merkel: quarantine for those who leave there
Although the ECDC estimates are rather bleak (in fact “By the end of August it will represent 90% of all SARS-CoV-2 viruses in circulation in the European Union “), as the information and studies available to date show, for now the phenomenon mainly concerns the UK. In fact, on the island, where the planned reopening has already been postponed by a month, the Indian variant accounts for 96% of coronavirus cases and has led to a new growth in infections. According to the authorities across the Channel, 50,017 new cases were registered in the week between 7 June and 13 June, an increase of 49.3% compared to the previous 7 days.
A worrying surge that, as mentioned, is also starting to appear in Italy where pervasiveness is currently around 9%. However, compared to the United Kingdom, far fewer cases are sequenced in the Peninsula and this is obviously a problem. In fact, 9% is the result of the sequences deposited in the international Gisaid database and processed by the Ceinge computer scientists. However, the data filed last night by the Campania Region’s genomic surveillance plan show an increase of up to 25% as explained by the president of the Ceinge-Advanced Biotechnology of Naples, Pietro Forestieri. “The picture that emerges only from these data, however partial, is worrying – he observed – considering that we must expect progressively and constantly higher numbers, with the deposit of further sequenced viruses”. It is therefore no coincidence that things start to move throughout Europe and beyond. For example, the Israeli government has chosen to postpone the entry of vaccinated tourists from 1 July to 1 August. While the German Chancellor Angela Merkel has instead expressed the hope that those arriving from the United Kingdom will be quarantined in any EU country. «In Germany, if you come from Great Britain, you have to quarantine yourself but this is not the case in all European countries. While I wish it were so, ”he said speaking to the Bundestag. The Chancellor had recently criticized Portugal, where British tourists are allowed to enter without quarantine (in Italy it is necessary since the beginning of this week).
The Delta Plus variant
However, it does not end there. In fact, in recent days fear has begun to mount for a further mutation of the Indian variant, the so-called Delta plus. It is a rib of the now known Delta and South African, simply called AY.1. A mutation that, based on the first and partial data collected in India by the Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (Igib) of the Indian National Research Council, it seems to be able to transmit more easily and to bind more effectively to the receptor found on the cells of the lungs. Worrying findings but based on a handful of cases (22) found in six districts of three Indian states. Not only. According to the Igib researchers, the Delta Plus 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 South African in fact). This is a factor which, as underlined by virologist Francesco Broccolo of the University of Milan Bicocca, leads to consider the need to remodel existing anti Covid vaccines. “We cannot exclude – he points out – that new variants will arrive and that some of these cannot ‘bucarè the vaccine from a virological point of view, that is as regards infection and transmission, even if not yet from a clinical point of view, that is as regards serious illness and death “
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