The Delta variant is expanding. After becoming dominant in Great Britain and persuading Boris Johnson to cautiously slow down the reopening, which however are already well underway, the mutation initially reported in India has reached continental Europe, so much so that it becomes prevalent in parts of Portugal. It’s Italy? Three weeks ago, in the latest survey by the Higher Institute of Health, the Delta variant accounted for just 1 percent of total cases; in the new report, which will be released in the next few hours, however, it could be in double figures (the Financial Times speaks of 20 percent). From today, the ordinance of the Minister of Health, Roberto Speranza, which imposes a five-day quarantine on those arriving from the United Kingdom, will come into force.
Delta variant, the scenario
It must be said that, for now, what happened when the English variant landed in Italy is not happening: the latter caused a considerable increase in new cases, given its higher transmission speed compared to the original strain; the spread of the Indian, the Delta, considered 40 percent more contagious than the English, does not have a drag effect and is coinciding with a collapse in new cases. In summary: with Italy traveling less than 1,000 infected a day, a cluster of Indian variant, even limited, is enough to make the percentage jump upwards but not the infections.
Regions, early recalls – This does not mean that it can be underestimated: it has been shown to have a partial ability to bypass vaccines after the first dose (the British experience concerns both Pfizer and AstraZeneca). Some Regions, starting with Lazio, have decided to allow for early recalls: the sooner the vaccination process ends, the fewer opportunities are offered to the Delta variant to thrive. In Great Britain, the strategy entirely focused on the first doses was deleterious. The fact that the Indian variant is also advancing in France and Spain is a wake-up call, while the Portuguese case, where the epidemic seemed under control, is emblematic.
Delta, the case of Portugal
In Lisbon, 60 percent of new cases are of the Delta variant and experts expect it to spread across the country. Furthermore, the symptoms are particularly insidious. Attention, not more serious (indeed in the United Kingdom there has been a lower number of pneumonia, but this may depend on the fact that most of the fragile subjects are vaccinated). However, those who become infected often experience effects similar to those of a cold, with a runny nose, headache and sore throat. This leads many, perhaps among the youngest, to think that it is just a simple cold. Unknowingly, those infected with the Delta variant thus become the spread of the virus. Will we be forced to give up the farewell to outdoor masks due to the advance of the new variant? At the Ministry of Health they exclude it, at least until the overall figure of new positives (but also of hospitalizations) decreases so evidently. But at the same time the Portuguese case must be a warning. Cnr mathematician Massimo Sebastiani observes that “in 36 Italian provinces the curve of the Covid epidemic in the last 14 days is stagnating or growing linearly, while the vaccination campaign is showing signs of slowing down, with a percentage of administrations compared to to the total of double doses of vaccine at 38 per cent ».
In Italy, new tests are now available that can recognize the Delta variant already at a first molecular analysis of the sample. “We need new criteria for the analysis of swabs with a high viral load to be able to identify the Delta variant”, observes virologist Francesco Broccolo, of the University of Milan Bicocca who adds: “We need to change the criteria for screening as soon as possible and update tests to search for variants of concern. At the moment we do not have a monitoring of the circulation of this variant, contrary to what happens in Great Britain, where a national program for sequencing is active ».
Sunday June 20, 2021, 10:38 pm – Last updated: June 21, 07:58
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