Increase in Delta Variant cases in the United States, India, China, Australia, and France. The “Super Power” mutant

Coronavirus cases and hospitalizations in the United States peaked in six months, fueled by the rapid spread of the Delta variant in parts of the country struggling with low vaccination rates.

China on Tuesday reported its largest single-day increase since the current outbreak began last month amid growing concern over the spread of Delta.

France recently launched an emergency plan on the Mediterranean island of Corsica as the fourth wave of Covid infections spread across the country.

The government is also reactivating a package of measures designed to support medical staff as it prepares for a new influx of cases.

East Timor on Tuesday recorded its first case of community transmission of the highly contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus, sparking concerns from its health ministry about a possible spike.

Closer to home, the Delta variant has been detected in at least 80% of samples sent for genome sequencing by the Delhi government in the past three months. In India, the Delta variant was the source of the second deadly wave of the coronavirus which killed thousands and infected lakhs from March to May.

The World Health Organization has warned of a further increase in Delta cases, as it has now been reported in more than 135 countries.

As contagious as chickenpox

Studies suggest that the Delta variant is more transmissible than the viruses that cause MERS, SARS, Ebola, colds, seasonal flu, and smallpox. New reports have even suggested that it is as contagious as chickenpox.

The WHO classifies Delta as a variant of concern, which means that it has been shown to be able to increase transmissibility, cause more serious disease, or reduce the benefits of vaccines and treatments.

In the United States, nationwide, Covid-19 cases have averaged 100,000 for three consecutive days, up 35% over the past week, according to a Reuters tally of health data public. The disease outbreak was strongest in Louisiana, Florida, and Arkansas.

Hospitalizations were up 40% and deaths, a lagging indicator, was up 18% over the past week with the highest number of deaths by population in Arkansas.

The number of children hospitalized with COVID-19 is increasing nationwide, a trend that health experts attribute to the fact that the Delta variant is more likely to infect children than the original Alpha strain.

Higher viral load

According to Shane Crotty, a virologist at the La Jolla Institute of Immunology in San Diego, US, Delta’s “superpower” is its transmissibility. Chinese researchers have found that people infected with Delta carry 1,260 times more virus up their noses than the original version of Some US research suggests that the “viral load” in vaccinated people who are infected with Delta is comparable to those who are not vaccinated, but more research is needed.

While the original coronavirus took up to seven days to cause symptoms, Delta can cause symptoms two to three days faster, giving the immune system less time to respond and defend itself. Delta also appears to mutate more, with reports emerging of a ‘Delta Plus’ variant, a subline that carries an additional mutation that has been shown to escape immune protection.

India listed Delta Plus as a variant of concern in June, but neither the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention nor the WHO has yet done so. According to, an open-source COVID-19 database, Delta Plus has been detected in at least 32 countries. Experts say it’s not yet clear if it’s more dangerous.

Is B.1.621 the next one to watch?

The B.1.621 variant, which first appeared in Colombia in January, where it caused a major epidemic, has yet to gain a name in Greek letters.

The European Center for Disease Prevention and Control has listed it as a variant of interest, while Public Health England describes B.1.621 as a variant under study. It carries several key mutations, including E484K, N501Y, and D614G, which have been associated with increased transmissibility and reduced immune protection. So far, there have been 37 probable and confirmed cases in the UK, and the variant has been identified in several patients in Florida.

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Others are in preparation?

Dr.Anthony Fauci, the chief medical adviser to the White House, recently warned that the United States could be in trouble unless more Americans are vaccinated, as large numbers of unvaccinated people give the virus more than chances of spreading and mutating into new variants.

Advocates of greater international distribution of vaccine doses by rich countries say the same could happen as variants emerge unchecked among populations in poor countries where very few people have been vaccinated.

Even so, a key problem is that current vaccines block serious disease but do not prevent infection, said Dr. Gregory Poland, vaccine researcher at the Mayo Clinic. This is because the virus is still able to replicate in the nose, even in vaccinated people, who can then transmit the disease through tiny aerosolized droplets.

Beating SARS-CoV-2, he said, will likely require a new generation of vaccines that also block transmission.

Until then, the world will remain vulnerable to the rise of new coronavirus variants.

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