Since the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus was first detected in 2019 in Wuhan, it has been constantly transforming. To date, scientists know about 160 strains of coronavirus. One of the latest mutations is Delta, which appeared in India and quickly spread throughout the world. This strain differs from the previous ones in increased contagiousness and virulence, which is why it infects a person more easily than Wuhan, British and other variants of SARS-CoV-2.
But while experts were just beginning to figure out what the Indian coronavirus is, another, more dangerous mutation of SARS-CoV-2, which has already been called Delta Plus, was recorded. In addition to India, the new strain has already been found in various countries in Europe, Asia and the United States. And today it is known about the existence of Delta Plus in two variations: AY.1 - circulates in Europe and Asia, as well as AY.2, which was discovered in the USA.
What is the new strain
SARS-CoV-2 is an RNA virus and consists of approximately 30 thousand pairs of amino acids, which are located one after the other like bricks. Changes in any of these pairs cause the virus to mutate at the genetic level, which in turn leads to changes in the shape and behavior of the strain. As for the Delta Plus variant coronavirus, it is distinguished by multiple mutations in the spike protein (that part of the virus by which the pathogen attaches to the host cell).
The Delta Plus variant is based on the genetic code of the Delta strain, which in turn carries the code for two other mutations, E484Q and L452R. As a result, the structure of the spike protein of the new virus has undergone changes that allow the "spikes" of the coronavirus to more easily attach to the cells of the human body, multiply faster, invading the immune system and affecting organs. Because of these mutations, the Delta Plus strain poses a greater threat to humans than the original variant of the COVID-19 pathogen.
What is the danger of a new strain: the opinion of experts
Today, not much is known about a new strain of coronavirus. However, the information available to experts suggests that Delta Plus may be resistant to monoclonal antibodies, that is, bypass immunity formed after vaccination or as a result of previous COVID-19. In addition, scientists cannot yet say for sure whether the vaccines used to combat Delta will be able to protect against a new strain and do not exclude the risk that Delta Plus has the ability to "evade the vaccine." The fact is that most coronavirus vaccines are aimed at teaching the body to recognize the spike protein of the pathogen, but in the case of Delta Plus, mutations occurred in this part.
Indian specialists point out that Delta Plus demonstrates several qualities that cause serious concern among scientists. The strain is characterized by increased transmissibility (transmissibility), it more easily damages lung cells and is potentially able to bypass the antibody response.
Symptoms and possible complications
The SARS-CoV-2 mutation changes not only the structure of the virus and its behavior pattern, but also the symptoms of those infected. So the delta variant, in addition to the symptoms traditional for COVID-19 in the form of loss of taste and smell, also causes other, less typical ones, which only makes diagnosis more difficult.
The most common symptoms of the new coronavirus strain are:
Experts note that the symptoms of the disease caused by the Indian strain are more like a bad cold. In some cases, it manifests itself with symptoms resembling gastrointestinal diseases. That is, now the disease manifests itself differently than everyone is used to. In addition, the new virus is increasingly affecting the young population of the planet.
It is too early to say what complications the new Delta Plus might cause. Presumably, it will be all the same lung tissue lesions. It is also possible that phycomycosis, an outbreak of which occurred in India in people who had been ill with the Delta coronavirus.
Is it possible to protect against a new strain
It is too early to predict the effectiveness of existing vaccines against a new strain of coronavirus. Potentially, Delta Plus could be the cause of another wave of mass infection of COVID-19. Only compliance with quarantine restrictions will allow minimizing the risk of infection and reducing the spread of the strain. Moreover, according to some doctors, in order to avoid infection, it is worth wearing not just a mask, but a good respirator and glasses. The latter are necessary to prevent the pathogen from entering the mucous membrane of the eye.
As evidenced by the situation in the world, SARS-CoV-2 is in no hurry to give up its positions and poses many serious threats to humanity. And while the best scientists in the world continue to look for a way to overcome the virus, the rest can only wait and follow preventive measures.
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