The 3rd Wave

By : Dr. Samayug Bhowmik, Bureau Chief-ICN West Bengal

KOLKATA : Already we have witnessed how many of us suffered and lost family members or loss of a nearer one either in first or second wave or in both during previous Covid 19 pandemics. Now death starts by Delta Plus at the beginning of the 3rd Wave.

This Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2 was first reported in India in October 2020 and has now spread to over 111 countries across the world.

According to the latest update of the World Health Organization, the viral strain , which is behind the resurgent rise of global cases , has mutated into Delta Plus.

Cases of Delta Plus in India are spreading and now causing serious concern of a new wave from this new variant. Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics (INSACOG) has however recently revealed that Delta Plus is not likely to be as transmissible as Delta.

In India , Delta and Delta Plus are more predominant now than the other older strains. Among the other variants, Gamma and Lambda  variants have not been found in India , as per study conducted by INSACOG , Gamma is prevailing in 75 countries and Lambda , which is assumed to be deadlier than Delta , is prevailing in 29 countries .

The high transmissibility of the Delta already explained how entire families in India have become infected when only one person caught the virus.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),USA, described Delta as more transmissible than the common cold and influenza.The highest spread of cases and severe outcomes is happening in places with low vaccination rates, and practically all hospitalizations and deaths
have been mostly among the unvaccinated.

The Delta Plus variant – also known as B.1.617.2.1 or AY.1 etc. contains a new mutation in the spike protein before the virus enters the human body. Although Delta Plus has been found in relatively low numbers till date.

India already has been ravaged by the Delta and COVID-19 cases reached a horrifying peak of
400,000 daily cases in May 2021.

For Delta Plus there are three characteristics for concern.

1) Increased transmissibility,
2) Stronger binding/associations with Lungs at the receptors of lung cells.
3) Potential reduction in response to latest drugs thus the medicines are becoming less
responsive to this strain.

Like the first and second strain of Covid 19 the Delta further mutated to Delta AY.1, AY.2, and AY.3 etc. and in many other variants. Delta + AY.1 variant was first detected in India in April 2021 and afterwards travelled to more than 111 countries till July 2021.

In the earlier waves, those infected had fever, cough & cold at the beginning followed by gradual deterioration of oxygen saturation and so on. Delta which is a mutant strain, developed from earlier strains. This Delta again mutated to a more dangerous Delta Plus variant. Those infected may not have such symptoms, as in the 1st and 2nd wave. There might be no cough, fever may or may not be there in the first 48-72 hrs. On the contrary, sufferers may get moderate to severe joint pain, headache, pain at neck and upper back region, quite similar to Dengue infection and there are symptoms like general weakness, loss of appetite and of course, the more to be concerned about, that is chest infection or pneumonia.

Surely as per evidence and observations till date this Delta + strain is much more virulent and with a higher mortality rate. It takes less transit time than its earlier counterparts to reach extremes and in 50% of patients, it is present without any preliminary symptoms. Thus everybody should be much more careful.

These strains do not stay in the nose and throat for a long time but with or without minimal symptoms quickly trickle down to the chest within a few hours. Thus the ‘window period’ (it is the time between getting infected & having pneumonia going critical) is shorter. Several such patients feel feverish only and have no fever but have been seen to show pneumonia on their Chest X-rays. There may also be false negative results from RTPCR tests ,as when a patient goes for testing, at that time, the Covid Virus might have already escaped from the nose and throat area.

Thus, we can infer that the virus spreads fast and goes directly to the lungs, causing acute respiratory distress due to viral pneumonia. This explains why this new strain has become sharp, quick dissemination, more virulent and a deadly one.

At this moment we are not in a position to drive away this virus but we can resist and may escape from the extreme eventualities from this deadly virus strain by quick vaccination and following all covid guidelines .

In this variant of the novel coronavirus it is reported that after two doses of the Covishield COVID-19 vaccine is found 63% effective which is satisfactory data for community protection at large scale.

Covaxin is also effective against Delta, AY.1 (Delta Plus) and B.1.617.3 variants. as stated by,Dr Samiran Panda, head of epidemiology and communicable diseases, ICMR, referring to the study told that Covaxin could still neutralise Delta, AY.1 and B.1.617.3 variants Data so far suggests efficacy rates of more than 67 percent for the J&J vaccine, 72 to 95 percent for the Moderna vaccine, and 42 to 96 percent for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

Till date much of the evidence still remains unclear as the study also did not say whether the drop in effectiveness is due to vaccines losing their potency over time or because they are not fully effective against Delta.

Only modest differences in vaccine effectiveness were noted with the delta variant as compared with the previous alpha variant after the receipt of two vaccine doses. These findings guide us to maximize vaccination with two doses quickly among vulnerable populations.

Even though vaccines offer different ranges of protection, experts say,

1) Delta+ is more contagious than the other virus strains.
2) Unvaccinated people are more at risk.
3) Vaccination is the best protection against Delta.

There is still more to learn about Delta but Vaccination is the best protection available till date.

This Covid 19 3rd wave of Delta variant is much more deadly than the first or second and as it is very much clever to cause catastrophe. So we have to be VERY CAREFUL and take all kinds of precautions .

what we can do to escape the new strain

Remember, dear readers, failing to do any of the above may spread the third wave like wildfire in the near future.

Please also be an alert communicator for your near and dear ones.

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