The summer season is threatened in Europe by the prevalence of the delta variant, 40 to 60% more contagious than the alpha variant (which appeared in the UK). The delta variant, first identified in India, currently accounts for 20% of new Covid-19 cases detected in France, according to Health Minister Olivier Veran. The European section of the World Health Organization warned on July 1, that it is on track to become mainstream on the old continent by the end of August. Added to this concern is seeing another variant, the Delta Plus variant, already detected in several European countries, following the same rise.
Should we be worried? How is it different from the delta variable it comes from? Franceinfo paints a picture of this new type of SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, which has already been tracked by health authorities.
It appeared in India, and is classified as “of concern” by local authorities
This new strain is found in Europe and India in the spring, in many people infected in India in June, a country hit hard in April by a deadly wave due to the delta variant. The identification of a small number of cases of this new strain, dubbed Delta Plus, has alarmed Indian health authorities, who fear a resurgence of a new epidemic. The new mutation was discovered in just 48 people with the delta variant, out of more than 45,000 samples examined, the site notes. Conversation (article in english), But in three states across the country: Maharashtra, Kerala and Madhya Pradesh.
Despite its low incidence, the Delta plus variant was classified on June 22 by the Indian government as “worrying”. at statement (in English), The Ministry of Health justifies its choice. According to information provided by Insacog, a consortium of 28 laboratories affiliated with Ministry of Health, the Delta Plus variant will be more transmissible, will have a greater ability to bind to lung cells and will be more resistant to monoclonal antibodies. However, these elements have not yet been confirmed by standardized studies. “We are only guessing, it all comes from a press release issued by the Ministry of Indian health‘, confesses Mircea SofoniaAnd the Lecturer in Epidemiology and Development of Infectious Diseases at the University of Montpellier, On the culture of France.
Carrying a mutation in a beta variant
This new strain of Sars-CoV-2 virus, which originated from Covid-19, belongs to the delta variant strain that was identified in India at the end of 2020. It has mutations characteristic of this variant, but it is also a mutation called K417N. The discovery of this additional mutation by scientists led to the emergence of a new variant name, called AY1 by epidemiologists and Delta Plus by authorities.
This K417N mutation isn’t new in itself: it really is It was identified on the Beta variant, which was first discovered in South Africa at the end of 2020. It is located at the level of the genetic sequence that encodes the spike protein, which allows the virus to enter the cells of the human body, and will be responsible for a greater exhaust. This means that this mutation will allow the virus to escape more easily than the Sars-CoV-2 antibodies created by the body after contamination or vaccination.
In the case of the beta vaccine, Covid-19 vaccines have retained their effectiveness, despite this mutation, but some have been found to be significantly less effective against this strain of the virus. “We ended up with the delta variant that additionally has, perhaps, an immune escape capacity because this mutation was already found in the beta variant, formerly known as ‘South Africa’, Epidemiologist Mircea Sofonia summarizes. Circumstance “In the end” It has all its significance here, because right now It is not known what happens to the Delta Plus variant. However, studies are underway to evaluate the protection offered by vaccines against this new variant.
It is being monitored worldwide
At the moment, and particularly due to its low turnover, the Delta Plus variant is still classified by the World Health Organization as a “variant of interest” and has not advanced to the level of a “variant of concern”. The new breed does not representOnly a small portion of the delta sequences” identified in the Sars-CoV-2 genomes analyzed, justified the regulation.
This new strain is present in several countries around the world, especially in France, the United Kingdom and Portugal, but in a very small percentage: according to the site outbreak (in English), which depicts the circulation of different strains of the virus from at Database happyAnd the This The variant, as of July 4, represents less than 1% of the serial tests in the countries where it was detected, Except for Nepal (7%). In France, sAccording to the latest report for the yearRisk analysis conducted by Public Health France and CNR of respiratory tract infection viruses (document PDF) on June 30, Lineage AY1, which corresponds to the Delta Plus variant, “It was detected intermittently.” With the discovery of 8 cases out of more than 53,000 cases Sequences were analyzed, based on data provided by the Gisaid Viral Database. Note that the ratios analyzed using this platform depend on the sequencing effort provided by the different states.
The fact that one of the variants has mutated is nothing new, alpha and beta variants have also given rise to new strains of the virus, which, however, have not yet been proven to exist. Nothing indicates that the Delta Plus variant will take the upper hand over its cousin, the Delta variant. “Currently, we lack data, which is why it is still too early to declare the Delta Plus variant as a ‘variable of concern’ on a global scale,” Mircea Sofonia explains. “The Delta Plus variant is almost identical to the Delta variant”, Confirmed on 23 June by Director of the CSIR-IGIB Genome Research Institute in New Delhi, Anurag Agrawal, On CNBC-TV18 India (in English)And the emphasizing : “The plus sign does not necessarily mean that it is worse than delta.”