Thailand’s Delta Plus Case : A False Alarm That Cannot Be Ignored

Thailand’s Delta Plus Case : A False Alarm That Cannot Be Ignored

Thailand’s Delta Plus Case : A False Alarm That Cannot Be Ignored

Dr. Chawetsan Namwat, Director of the Division of Disease Control and Emergency Health Hazards  at Disease Control Department (DCD) said on Monday that Thailand  has recorded its first case of the Delta Plus variant of Covid-19.

However, by Tuesday, Dr. Supakit Sirilak, Director-General of the Medical Sciences Department clarified that the first Covid-19 Delta Plus case found in Thailand is the AY.1  variant which is different from the AY.4.2 strain currently spreading in the United  Kingdom. 

How dangerous is the Delta Plus variant and although it was a false alarm, should the country ignore it?

The United Kingdom Health Security Agency on Sunday moved the AY.4.2 variant to the “under Investigation” category.

The designation was made on the basis that this sub-lineage has become increasingly  common in the UK in recent months and there is some early evidence that it may have an  increased growth rate in the UK compared to Delta.

UKSHA , the health agency in charge of assessing Covid variants noted that the genome of the Delta Plus variant does not have many mutations compared to Delta. However,he warned, a small change may be enough to cause a difference in the virus properties.
Healthline reported Francois Balloux, PHD, director at the Univeristy College London Genetics  Institute posted on social media that data suggests AY.4.2 could be more transmissible than the more common UK Delta variant AY.4.

The sub-variant of the Covid delta strain-AY.4.2 may be up to 15 per cent more  transmissible than the original Delta, scientists estimate and is likely to be named as Nu.

However, experts say that more transmissibility doesn’t mean more dangerous. 
Der Len Horovitz, internist and pulmonary specialist  at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York explained that the virus being more infectious, does not mean it’s more virulent but it does mean that the virus’s incubation period is shorter, so it can be transmitted faster and spread more easily than one that requires longer incubation.

Experts seem to agree that although data points to higher transmissibility, the Delta Plus needs more research and data on whether the cases would be more serious.

Although, we are not seeing anything worrisome yet, Thai authorities should be tracking  it carefully and strengthening all public health measures. It’s better to be cautious now than to be caught off-guard again if the cases turn out be serious as it was with the  Delta variant.

Written By - Patra Manas.