Delta Plus Variant
Why in News:
- The Union Health Ministry has warned States that the delta plus variant, which is currently a variant of Covid-19, has increased transmissibility, stronger binding to receptors of lung cells and potential reduction in monoclonal antibody response.
- A monoclonal antibody (mAb or moAb) is an antibody made by cloning a unique white blood cell.
- Delta plus (B.1.617.2.1/(AY.1) is a new variant of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus formed due to a mutation in the Delta strain of the virus (B.1.617.2 variant).
- It is technically the next generation of SARS-COV-2.
- Since it’s a new variant, its severity is still unknown.
- Reported symptoms are headaches, sore throats, runny noses, and fever.
- Regions where Delta Plus variants are found may need to enhance their public health response by focusing on surveillance, enhanced testing, quick contact-tracing, and priority vaccination.
- Delta Plus may inflict another wave of infections on India after it emerged from the world’s worst surge in cases.
What is a virus variant?
- Viruses constantly change through mutation, and new variants of a virus are expected to occur. Sometimes new variants emerge and disappear. Other times, new variants persist.
- Viruses constantly change and become more diverse. Scientists monitor these changes, including changes to the spikes on the surface of the virus. By carefully studying viruses, scientists can learn how changes to the virus might affect how it spreads and how sick people will get from it.
- High levels of circulation mean it is easier for the virus to change as it is able to replicate faster.
How does this variation/mutation happen?
- As a virus replicates, its genes undergo random “copying errors” (i.e. genetic mutations). Over time, these genetic copying errors can, among other changes to the virus, lead to alterations in the virus’ surface proteins or antigens.
- For a virus, mutations are a mixed blessing. The ability to generate antigenic variants that can escape the immune response is a clear advantage, but mutation also results in many defective particles, since most mutations are harmful.
Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data (GISAID)
- GISAID is a global science initiative and primary source established in 2008 that provides open-access to genomic data of influenza viruses.
- This includes genetic sequence and related clinical and epidemiological data associated with human viruses, and geographical as well as species-specific data associated with avian and other animal viruses, to help researchers understand how viruses evolve and spread during epidemics and pandemics.
- It has been instrumental in analysing different variants in Covid-19 during this pandemic
View all comments