The Centre declared the Delta Plus variant a ‘variant of concern’ (VoC) on Tuesday, citing three key characteristics: increased transmissibility, stronger binding to lung cell receptors, and a potential reduction in monoclonal antibody response. Given that the new variant has been detected in many states across the country, the government has already urged states to take the necessary precautions, ensuring ‘widespread testing, prompt tracing, and priority vaccine coverage.’
What we witnessed in the second wave of coronavirus cannot be described in words. However, it is within our power to protect the health of ourselves, our loved ones, and the most vulnerable members of society. Vaccines are currently our only hope and weapon against the SARs-COV-2 virus and its variants. The Delta variant, which drove India’s second wave of COVID-19, is one of the most lethal and infectious variants of COVID-19 and is known to be wreaking havoc in and around the world. However, the Delta variant is said to have mutated into a new strain known as the Delta Plus variant, which has been found in Maharashtra, Kerala, and Madhya Pradesh.
Recently, the Indian health ministry stated that Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin and Serum Institute of India’s Covishield are effective against the Delta variant. According to Union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan, ‘Both the vaccines being administered in India, Covishield and Covaxin, (Sputnik joined later) are effective against Delta. But to what extent and what is the proportion of antibody titers produced by these vaccines will be shared soon.’
Sputnik V, the Russia-made vaccine, which was approved in India alongside Covaxin and Covishield, has also been said to be effective against all variants of Covid known today. As per Gamaleya Centre head Alexander Gintsburg, ‘Antibodies developed after vaccination with Sputnik V protect from all variants of COVID known today, starting from the UK variant to the so-called Delta variant, first detected in India.’
Pfizer BioNTech is in talks with the Indian government about supplying its COVID-19 vaccine, which is also said to be effective against COVID variants. The ability of antibodies in the blood of fully vaccinated people to neutralize the highly contagious Delta and Kappa variants was tested in a study conducted by Oxford University researchers and published in the journal Cell.
‘There is no evidence of widespread escape suggesting that the current generation of vaccines will provide protection against the B.1.617 lineage,’ according to the study.