Public health authorities in every country are not stopping putting initiatives to combat and ease the coronavirus pandemic. Along with the health protocols and vaccination, the officials are also keeping the surge of the new COVID-19 delta variant at bay. Heightened restrictions are even reapplied to some regions due to the impending threat of the mutated coronavirus version, as the transmission of the delta variant is proven among the vaccinated population. But what really is the COVID-19 delta variant? And how did it mutate to a more dangerous variant, making the vaccine penetrable?
Why Is the Delta Variant So Dangerous?
The delta variant, like the previous coronavirus versions, was initially theorized to have the same impact as the alpha variant. But recent studies of the delta variant show a stunning 40-60% increase in transmission rates than the original SARS-CoV-2 alpha strain back in Wuhan.
The viral loads of the delta variant are estimated to be 1,000 higher than the basic version, which makes an abundant count of viral particles in a diagnosed individual's body, especially in the airways. The delta variant's dangerous features convinced the World Health Organization (WHO) to consider it as the 'fastest and fittest' coronavirus variant throughout the pandemic.
The dangers of the delta variant rely on transmission, as the severity of symptoms and increase of hospitalization due to the new variant is still under study. Like the alpha strain, the delta variant of COVID-19 inflicts patients with common symptoms, including sore throat, runny nose, headache, and fever. However, coughing and loss of smell are not recorded to be as usual as the other manifestations.
The vaccines are still the best protection against the COVID-19 variants, as reported by NPR. Thankfully, the vaccines have an efficacy rate against the delta variant. Still, even though the new COVID-19 appears to infiltrate the vaccinated population, a study published in The Lancet journal shows that hospitalization is two times more possible to unvaccinated people as opposed to the people with complete doses.
SARS-CoV-2 Mutation to Delta Variant and Its Incubation Period
The mutation of the COVID-19 into the delta variant changed the genetics of the virus into a more contagious state. Unfortunately, the lack of knowledge about the new SARS-CoV-2 variant, including its transmissibility, caused the devastating event that took place in India earlier this year.
The incubation of the delta variant takes up to four days, which is shorter compared to the original variant. According to a report by USA Today, this translates to increased rate of infection across many places, especially in regions that have high populations of unvaccinated individuals. The original variant can spread up to three people per day, but the delta variant has a higher infection rate of up to six people per day.
The mutation of SARS-CoV-2 to delta variant is observed through the spike proteins of the virus. With the genetic change of the virus, spike proteins adapt and can make bodies, even the vaccinated ones, more penetrable. Based on the comprehensive studies mentioned by USA Today, the delta variant has spike mutations that are completely distinct compared to the first three mutations of COVID-19. But even then, the experts are still hoping for the people to get vaccinated, as it is the only protection that we currently have against the mutated spike proteins of the COVID-19 delta variant.
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