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Delta Plus variant of the coronavirus: More contagious and resistant to vaccines?

The Ministry of Health announced last weekend the detection of three cases of the so-called Delta Plus variant of SARS-CoV-2 in the country. Two of those affected by COVID-19 they recover at home, while a third – not vaccinated – is stable in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).

Referring to the presence of Delta Plus, the head of Health, Hernando Cevallos, said that this “generates an immune leak, which is a decrease in the effectiveness of the vaccine. This”.

So, it is worth asking: is it much more dangerous than the Delta variant, now dominant in the country? What actually happens with the effectiveness of the vaccines?

An additional mutation

Most of these modifications are harmless, but some provide certain advantages to the pathogen. That happens with the currently identified variants, such as Alpha, Beta, Lambda or Delta, which is the most contagious detected so far.

In June, Indian health authorities detected a mutation in samples of the Delta variant. Because she shared a lot with this one, they decided to name her ‘Delta Plus’ and

Delta Plus, whose scientific name is AY.1 or B.1.617.2.1, has one in the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2, which is key for the virus that causes COVID-19 to bind to cells, in addition this part is the target of messenger RNA vaccines, for example.

This mutation is called ‘K417N’ and it is not the first time that it has been detected, as it has already been identified in variants such as Beta, detected for the first time in South Africa. In laboratory tests, it has been shown to have recovered and vaccinated against COVID-19.

“[Con la variante Delta plus] there would be a danger of a higher level of transmission. For the bibliographic review of what happens in other countries, and also in the efficiency of some treatments ”, said Vice Minister Bernardo Ostos.

However, it is important to note that the immune response is restricted to antibodies, but that the body has cellular immunity, which occurs in both recovered and immunized people. That is, even if the antibodies decrease or do not react as expected, we have the so-called

As with Delta, vaccines are expected to be less effective in contagion, but these

The CDC has published two studies on the effectiveness of vaccines in preventing death and hospitalization from the coronavirus.  (File Photo: REUTERS / Ajeng Dinar Ulfiana)

Studies conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) when the Delta variant was already dominant in the United States show that COVID-19 vaccines are still highly effective against severe cases: they reduce the risk of eightfold contracting COVID-19 and In addition, fully immunized people were 11 times less likely to die from COVID-19 than unvaccinated people and had 10 times less risk of being hospitalized.

Therefore, experts agree, it is necessary to have more studies, not only at the in vitro (laboratory) level, but also at the clinical level, but current data show that Delta Plus is not displacing Delta.

The infectologist Juan Celis, from the Regional Hospital of Loreto, tells El Comercio that “There are no clinical differences for now [entre los pacientes con Delta y Delta Plus].

More information is needed

According to information from the Indian Ministry of Health provided in June, it could more easily bind to lung cells or resist treatments such as monoclonal antibodies, currently used in Europe and the US.

However, this classification for Delta’s sublineage has been questioned by experts from various parts of the world, as they consider that there is not enough data to be able to ensure that Delta Plus is more dangerous than Delta or is displacing it, according to Colin Angus. , public health policy analyst and modeler at Public Health England (PHE), to the Washington Post.

The exact origin of SARS-CoV-2 is not yet clear.  (GETTY)

The sublineage is present in the US, Europe. India and about 30 countries, much less than Delta, so entities like Unicef ​​consider that “To date, the spread of the Delta Plus variant is relatively low.”

At the moment, according to the Outbreak case tracker, backed by the US National Institute of Allergies and Diseases, worldwide since it was reported in March 2021.

For both the World Health Organization and the CDC, Delta Plus is one of the sub-lineages of Delta, which for both entities is a “variant of concern.”

“More data is needed to determine the true rate of spread and the impact of this new variant on the severity and outcome of the disease,” says Dr. Inci Yildirim, pediatric infectious disease specialist at Yale Medicine and vaccinologist.

For his part, Dr. Jeremy Kamil, a virologist at Louisiana State University, told the BBC that “We don’t have much reason to believe this is more dangerous than the original Delta.”

Therefore, Celis believes that the measures to contain Delta are just as effective for her Delta Plus sublineage.

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