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Worldwide delta variant driving sharp rise

 

Rayhan Ahmed Topader:

 

The variant is related to the Delta, an existing variant of concern, which was first identified in India last year and is thought to have driven the deadly second wave of infections this summer in India.India has classified a new variant of the coronavirus first identified in Europe as a variant of concern”, but it’s too early to tell whether it poses a significant threat.India’s health ministry says studies showed that the so-called Delta plus variant also known as AY.1 spreads more easily, binds more easily to lung cells and is potentially resistant to monoclonal antibody therapy, a potent intravenous infusion of antibodies to neutralise the virus.The health ministry says the Delta plus variant, first found in India in April, has been detected in around 40 samples from six districts in three states  Maharashtra, Kerala and Madhya Pradesh. At least 16 of these samples were found in Maharashtra, one of the states hardest hit by the pandemic.The number of new coronavirus cases increased across Europe for the first time in 10 weeks, the World Health Organization said, ending a stretch that had raised hopes the pandemic would recede as vaccinations progressed.New infections jumped 10 percent during the past week in the 53 countries that make up the WHO European region, the agency’s regional director for Europe, Hans Kluge, said at a briefing.He attributed the rise to increased mixing, summer travel and the rapid spread of the more contagious delta variant first identified in India.This is taking place in the context of a rapidly evolving situation, Kluge said.And in a region where, despite tremendous efforts by member states, millions remain unvaccinated.

As cases of Covid infection begin to peak in some parts of Bangladesh, health experts say that a variety of factors, including the potential to develop immunity, the virus transmission becoming seasonal and adherence to health protocols, will determine whether we will face a third wave of infection and if so, how strong that wave would be. Underlining the importance of vaccination will help to prevent people from getting infected. Among the factors that could determine the volume of the wave of the disease, one is virus-related and the second is human-related factor. The mutation of the virus is beyond our control.One can stop these waves through Covid-appropriate behaviour. Health officials are rallying to prepare for the third wave, predicted by many researchers and doctors. We apprehend that the third wave can strike the country in the next six to eight weeks. We should, therefore, brace ourselves for the impact. Many think that if Covid-appropriate behaviour is not followed, the third wave can happen even earlier. We must not let our guards down so that another large wave could be prevented.Covid infection rates have risen sharply in Britain, data has revealed, as Downing Street ruled out compulsory mask wearing in England this winter.According to the latest data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), based on swabs collected from randomly selected households, about 211,100 people in the community in England, or one in 260, were estimated to have had Covid in the week ending 26 June.That’s around a 72% rise on the week before when about 122,500 people in the community in England, or one in 440, were estimated to have had Covid.

The Delta strain is the most contagious variant we’ve seen so far, said Dr Ashish Jha, the dean of the Brown University School of Public Health.It is wreaking havoc around the world, and will cause problems here’, Jha added, referring to the United States.While the spread of Delta poses a particularly severe threat to Africa, South America, and other regions without adequate access to vaccines, the variant also puts at risk rich countries that continue to stand in the way of a patent waiver aimed at boosting the global vaccine supply.As the Financial Times reported last week, the ‘rising number of cases have raised concerns that the Delta variant could halt the progress the EU has made over past the two months’ in driving down coronavirus infections and deaths.The leadership of the European Union along with Canada and the United Kingdom has been among the principal opponents of the proposed vaccine patent waiver, which would temporarily suspend global intellectual property rules that are barring manufacturers from producing generic vaccines.

In Bangladesh troops are preparing to patrol the streets to enforce newly imposed stay-at-home orders. Australia, recently heralded as a pandemic success story, is returning to strict lockdown. Scotland is seeing a record-breaking surge in new coronavirus infections. Indonesia is teetering on the edge of a public health catastrophe. While many rich nations continue to ease public health guidelines as they gradually move in the direction of normalcy, an ultra-contagious Covid mutation known as the Delta variant is spreading like wildfire in countries that have struggled to vaccinate their populations and in communities that have refused to participate in inoculation drives, forcing governments to resort to drastic measures contain the damage.

The new curbs on travel and daily life stretched from Australia and Bangladesh to South Africa and Germany, where authorities over the weekend set new limits on travelers from “virus-variant zones” such as Portugal and Russia’, the Washington Post reported on June 28. ‘South Africa on Sunday extended a nightly curfew and introduced a ban on gatherings, alcohol sales, indoor dining, and some domestic travel for 14 days to halt a worrying surge in cases driven by the Delta variant. First detected in India, the Delta variant is rapidly emerging as the dominant coronavirus strain across the globe. The mutation which is estimated to be 60 per cent more transmissible than the highly contagious Alpha variant has now been detected in more than 80 countries, and it accounts for over a third of all new cases in the United States.The US a supporter of the patent waiver  and other rich countries have pledged to collectively donate roughly a billion coronavirus vaccine doses to poor nations over the next year, but experts estimate that around 11 billion doses are needed to vaccinate 70 per cent of the global population.The EU’s opposition to the TRIPS waiver is no longer a Europe-only topic’, said Jaume Vidal, senior policy adviser at Health Action International. It has become an issue of global concern as the need for a waiver to diversify and scale up production is more pressing than ever.Just over a month after classifying Delta as a ‘variant of concern’, World Health Organisation officials stressed in the past week that the mutation has the potential to be more deadly than other strains because ‘it’s more efficient in the way it transmits between humans.

If pandemic history is any precedent, such crowded quarters, just like prisons or mass religious gatherings, can turn into petri dishes of infection. Many garment workers, though, are desperate to keep their jobs, especially with annual bonuses due soon.Despite promises from various countries and international organizations, vaccine deliveries to Bangladesh have been underwhelming. Fewer than 3 percent of Bangladeshis have been fully vaccinated.

Public health experts have long feared that leaving vast swaths of the world without access to vaccines risks allowing vaccine-resistant variants to emerge, a nightmare scenario that would mean a prolonged pandemic and more avoidable deaths. As Nature’s Ewen Callaway reported, ‘Delta is moderately resistant to vaccines, particularly in people who have received just a single dose. A Public Health England study published on 22 May found that a single dose of either AstraZeneca’s or Pfizer’s vaccine reduced a person’s risk of developing Covid-19 symptoms caused by the Delta variant by 33 per cent, compared to 50 per cent for the Alpha variant’, Callaway noted. A second dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine boosted protection against Delta to 60 per cent, while two doses of Pfizer’s jab were 88 per cent effective In the United States, local governments are beginning to take action to prevent outbreaks amid growing concerns that Delta cases are on track to explode across the country.The Los Angeles county department of public health advised that residents  including those who have been fully vaccinated wear masks while in indoor public spaces.Until we better understand how and to who the Delta variant is spreading.

Missouri communities that have either declined to get vaccinated or struggled to gain access to shots are quickly becoming US hot spots for the Delta variant. We have seen this movie before elsewhere the Delta variant creeps up from the underbelly of falling cases of other variants, overtakes all variants, and then causes a surge’, said Feigl-Ding. ‘Don’t let this happen where you are.The Delta variant is showing an increased virulence, the hospital stay is long. The Delta Plus variant may show resistance to the Covid protocol. It is seen that Covishield and Covax are effective against the Delta variant. Fallacy to vaccination is why those countries with the highest vaccination rate are having the most cases. One explanation for this might be the time factor for vaccination. If a virus is transmitted quickly, it will mutate and a new strain will emerge. One vaccine cannot act against all the strain.The vaccination programme has to be all-out and in the shortest possible time to reach herd immunity.Zoning the country into red, yellow and green could be implemented for lockdown measures. We must do better and we must avoid the third wave. This means getting stricter with lockdown, procuring vaccines from whichever reliable source possible. Before Eid, the chances of mutation increase due to the presence of more variants and gatherings. It is essential to control mass gatherings to avoid a new surge.Meanwhile, we should prepare the hospitals again by ensuring a smooth supply of oxygen to intensive care units to tackle the third wave. Before everything, adherence to the health guidelines must be ensured at all levels.

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