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The New Threat: How Is Delta Plus Different From Delta Variant?

New Delhi: After the Delta variant of coronavirus was first detected in India and wreaked havoc during the second wave of COVID-19, it’s Delta Plus which is rearing its head in the country.

Identified in India just over a fortnight ago, the new viral variant of the coronavirus has been classified as a variant of concern.

With experts saying a third wave is imminent and unavoidable, there are increasing concerns over the Delta Plus variant.

How dangerous is it, and how different is it from other variants?

According to National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization (NTAGI) head Dr NK Arora, Delta Plus has a greater affinity towards lung tissues compared to other strains. However, he clarified that though it does not necessarily mean this variant can cause severe lung disease or has higher transmissibility.

Dr Arora is of the opinion that the impact of Delta Plus strain will be clearer as more cases are identified, but his assessment is that the disease is generally mild in those who have received one or both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

“We need to keep a very close watch and look at its spread so that it will give us transmission efficiency,” he said.

Odisha reported the first Delta Plus case in the state two days ago. Maharashtra has the maximum number of cases out of the 51 detected in the country so far.

Dr Arora, however, said that the actual number of Delta Plus cases could be higher as asymptomatic COVID-19 people may be spreading the virus.

The positive thing is that the government has identified this new variant of concern, which means that states can take action based on data shared with them.

He suggested state governments should make micro-plans for districts where the virus has been identified.

Dr Arora stressed that vaccination, coupled with use of masks and strict adherence to COVID-19 preventative measures, is necessary to neutralize damages that could be caused by the probable third wave.