Delta Plus COVID variant may be 15% more transmissible than Delta strain, experts say
Delta Plus, which is a mutation of the Delta strain of COVID-19, may be 15% more transmissible than the original Delta variant and is responsible for increasing COVID-19 infections in the United Kingdom, said Dr. Chalermchai Boonyaleephan, vice chairman of the Senate health committee, citing preliminary studies.
Delta Plus cases account for 6% of new infections in the UK, but the sub-variant is still regarded as a “Variant under Investigation” (VUI), and not yet a “Variant of Concern” (VOC), as there is still insufficient information about its ability to cause sickness or its vaccine resistance, said Dr. Chalermchai.
The first case of Delta Plus in Thailand was found in the central province of Ayutthaya in September but was revealed only yesterday (Monday). The infection, however, was of the AY.1 strain, not AY.4.2 found in the UK.
According to Dr Thira Woratanarat of the Faculty of Medicine, Chulalongkorn University, in his Facebook post today, in the UK, AY.4.2 cases have been found in all ages and genders, but mostly among children and youths, probably because these groups are not widely vaccinated, adding that the hospitalisation and fatality rates, related to the sub-variant, are on a par with those of the Delta variant (B.1.617.2).
Dr. Chalermchai also said, however, that the recent COVID-19 surge in the UK was not caused by Delta Plus alone, but by several other variants, including Delta, but it is probably rooted in the easy-going lifestyle and the easing of restrictions in the country, especially among family members, whose infection rates are as high as 20%.
In Thailand, he said that four sub-variants of the Delta strain have been detected, but none of them are capable of causing symptoms which are more serious than the original Delta strain.
With just one case of Delta Plus in Thailand to date, Dr. Chalermchai warned that greater caution must be exercised, although there is no cause for alarm, adding that the capability of the virus to mutate means humans must remain disciplined, protect themselves and always be on guard.