Delta Plus: Fears new Delta covid mutation could be resistant to monoclonal antibody treatment
As the world braces against a mutation of the highly-infectious Delta strain, experts are frantically investigating one horrifying theory.
As the world braces for the arrival of a new covid super strain there are fears the Delta Plus variant could be resistant to treatment for the disease.
Indian authorities have named Delta Plus strain a “variant of concern” after it was detected in three different states.
The variant of the highly infectious Delta strain, is said to have increased transmissibility and stronger binding to receptors of lung cells.
It has also been confirmed in nine other countries: Portugal, Japan, Switzerland, USA, UK, Russia, China, Nepal and Poland.
Experts across the globe are now scrambling to find out more about the Delta Plus variant, including how it responds to a popular treatment for coronavirus.
Used on President Donald Trump when he caught covid last year, monoclonal antibodies are when lab-produced antibodies are given to patients to help them fight coronavirus.
The treatment is now widely used across the globe, however, there are fears it does not work against the Delta Plus variant.
“As per the data available in public domain, monoclonal antibodies might not be effective against the Delta Plus variant. But we need more scientific data to back this claim,” Dr Rommel Tickoo, Max Healthcare director of internal medicine in Delhi, told India Today.
Other experts have stressed it is too early to draw conclusions about the Delta Plus variant as not enough data on the strain exists.
Director of Delhi-based CSIR-Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology, Dr Anurag Agarwal, told the BBC “all lineages of Delta viruses are variants of concern”.
“We do not have any indicators as of now to show that Delta Plus should be causing any public health worry or panic,” he said.
“We are not seeing anything worrisome yet. We are tracking it carefully, and strengthening all public health measures.”
‘Immediate containment measures’ needed against Delta Plus strain
One scientist has suggested India’s stance on the new strain is because it “would rather overreact now than seem flat-footed later, as was the case with the Delta variant”.
“I just see no evidence yet that the additional mutation is anything that is changing the dynamics of what Delta, which already seems to be a rather ‘concerning’ variant of concern,” virologist Dr Jeremy Kamil told the BBC.
The Delta strain was first detected in India in October last year and has now spread to at least 62 countries.
In the UK it accounts for 99 per cent of all cases and is the highly infectious strain behind Sydney’s latest outbreak.
The variant is twice as infectious and if contracted patients are more likely to end up in hospital.
The symptoms are also more severe, with doctors reporting severe diarorrea, hearing impairment and blood clots that lead to gangrene in cases with the Delta variant.
“Last year, we thought we had learned about our new enemy, but it changed,” Dr Abdul Ghafer, an infectious disease physician at Chennai’s Apollo Hospital, told Bloomberg.
“This virus has become so, so unpredictable.”
The Delta strain was responsible for India’s staggering second coronavirus wave in April and May that led to its death toll doubling to 330,000.
In a statement on Tuesday night the Indian Health Authority told the three states that have detected Delta Plus cases that its responses “have to become more focused and effective”.
State leaders “have been advised to take up immediate containment measures in the districts and clusters including preventing crowds of intermingling of people, widespread testing, prompt tracing as well as vaccine coverage on a priority basis”.