10 Things We Know On The Delta Plus
The Delta Plus or AY.1 strain has been found mainly in Maharashtra, Kerala and Madhya Pradesh and these states have been urged by the Centre to take "immediate containment steps".
Cases have been found in Madhya Pradesh's Bhopal and Shivpuri, Maharashtra's Ratnagiri and Jalgaon and Kerala's Palakkad and Pathanamthitta.
According to VK Paul, who heads the Covid task force, the Delta Plus had been seen in Europe "since March" and was brought into the public domain on June 13.
The Health Ministry says the role of Delta Plus in immune escape, disease severity or increased transmissibility "is under continued surveillance". Which means very little is known about how severely it can hit and how treatment and vaccines work on the strain.
The Delta Strain, a mutation in the Delta or B.1.617.2 first detected in India, is believed to be faster-spreading and may be more resistant to existing treatment protocol.
It has "increased transmissibility, stronger binding to receptors of lung cells and potential reduction in monoclonal antibody response," according to INSACOG (Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomic Consortia), a consortium of 28 labs tasked with genome sequencing of the virus.
According to experts, the Delta Plus has been found in nine countries - US, UK, Portugal, Switzerland, Japan, Poland, Russia, China and India.
As of June 18, 205 sequences were detected, over half of them in the US and UK.
According to INSACOG, the Delta Plus is characterized by a mutation in the spike protein, which helps the virus gain entry into human cells.
A Maharashtra COVID-19 task force member, Shashank Joshi, says there isn't enough data on the "Delta Plus" to be alarmed. "Variant of concern, vaccine and Panic. Delta plus variant of concern does not have sufficient data to be alarmed except that we must continue our strict COVID appropriate behaviour with double mask, avoid crowds and continue vaccination," he tweeted.