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Vaccine, isolation, high testing imperative to tackle dangerous Delta variant: Expert

Vaccine, isolation, high testing imperative to tackle dangerous Delta variant: Expert

Apart from severe lockdowns, accelerating vaccination among masses, isolation of positive cases and increasing the testing is strictly imperative to reduce rampant spread since the 'Delta' variant is highly contagious, says Sam Fazeli, who covers the pharmaceutical industry for Bloomberg Intelligence.

He says that Delta variant Sars-Cov-2, or the B.1.617.2 variant, of Covid-19 virus, has a 40 per cent more transmission rate than the "alpha" variant when the latter itself is 50% more contagious than the original strain. In the UK, the Delta variant was only 1% of reported cases in April, while it became 70% by mid-May.

It may completely replace alpha by the end of June. It also causes more severe disease than alpha, resulting in a surge in positive cases and the need for hospitalisation. The infection is found primarily in young people.

The UK reported the highest proportion of delta variant after India. The US shows 5% and rising, Germany offers 2%, Italy and Spain 3% and 5% respectively. He thinks that these countries should increase the pace of vaccinating, though, in the UK, the spread of the variant is out of control. The governments should increase tests and genomic surveillance.

Positive cases increased rapidly in the UK because of the shortfalls in vaccination and the advent of delta variant. Since the US also have a similar shortfall, it may face the same situation as the UK.

Fazeli thinks that the virus would mutate further, and some mutations must have already happened. Though many mutations do nothing or hinder the virus, Delta variant, with its rate of spread and masses hesitating to get vaccinated or are partially vaccinated, the risk of further harmful mutation is still there. Such mutations will make Delta immune to the bunch of vaccines we have. He says that 30% of US adults don't want to be vaccinated.

According to Fazeli, although children are not at severe risk of developing severe covid-19 diseases, a derivative or mutated variant of Delta can become a risk in the future. As more younger people were hospitalised due to delta variant than previous variants, we cannot term children as totally risk-free, he adds. Those who can't take vaccines, preventive methods like masking, social distancing etc., should be kept until the community spread dips remarkably.

(based on Bloomberg's opinion)

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