New Delhi: According to experts, the Delta variant of lineage B.1.617.2 that was first spotted in India in October 2020, is seen as being responsible for the devastating second wave of COVID-19 in the country. Declared as a variant of concern by the World Health Organisation (WHO) on May 11, 2021, the Delta variant is spreading fast in the world with various European countries, the United States of America and Australia reporting a spike in the cases caused by the Delta variant. NDTV spoke with US-based epidemiologist and Health Economist Dr Eric Feigl-Ding to learn about the transmissibility and risks of the Delta variant of COVID-19.
Delta Variant Spreading Around The World
“Delta variant has progressed a lot,” said Dr Feigl-Ding adding that the number of cases of this variant has increased three times in one week. He said,
This is very alarming. We know that the Delta variant spreads very quickly, and we know that there are parts of America that are not vaccinated enough. The variant is on a surge in the whole world. It is incredibly infectious. In Australia, even fleeting contact of mere seconds has led to several infections and mini outbreaks, so it is very dangerous.
Talking about the Delta variant’s capability to spread to others and causing the disease even when the contact was merely brushing past the infected person, Dr Feigl-Ding said that it is very clear that Delta variant is not like any other variant and is one of the most contagious. He said,
WHO has recently said that Delta variant is two times more contagious than the old strain and that is way more than Alpha variant (first detected in the UK) or the P1 (Gamma) variant, first detected in Brazil.
Delta Variant Vs Vaccines
Giving example of Israel, where most of the adult population is vaccinated, Delta variant cases are reported to be increasing among children, Dr Feigl-Ding highlighted that there have been breakthrough (getting infected even after taking the vaccine) cases of Delta variant infections among the adults. He said,
Clearly, the high levels of vaccination were not enough to slow down the spread. We need to learn that when we have more contagious variants, one dose is not enough. You really need to go for two doses.
Dr Feigl-Ding added that if a virus has double transmissibility from the original strain, the threshold of herd immunity for fully vaccinated also needs to be increased. He said,
70 per cent is no longer the threshold for herd immunity. It needs to be in the upper 80s to 90 per cent.
He highlighted that most of the nations in the world have not vaccinated even half of their population. He said,
We need probably, 2-3 billion more doses. There is a need to increase vaccination manifold.
Delta Plus Variant
In India, so far, the Delta Plus variant has been reported in four states. While there are some unique mutations that make it potentially worrisome, more data is required in order to determine the risks involved, said Dr Feigl-Ding. According to, he said that there is a need for more data. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India has however stated Delta Plus variant as a variant of concern in the country.
Dr Feigl-Ding warned that the world is far away from containing the pandemic and doing away with masks or social distancing. The Delta variant is currently the greatest challenge as it is 2.5 times likely to cause hospitalization, he said. He also called upon people to remain vigilant and remember that the pandemic is not over yet.
NDTV – Dettol Banega Swasth India campaign is an extension of the five-year-old Banega Swachh India initiative helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. It aims to spread awareness about critical health issues facing the country. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign highlights the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children to prevent maternal and child mortality, fight malnutrition, stunting, wasting, anaemia and disease prevention through vaccines. Importance of programmes like Public Distribution System (PDS), Mid-day Meal Scheme, POSHAN Abhiyan and the role of Aganwadis and ASHA workers are also covered. Only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and become a Swasth or healthy India. The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene.
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