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New Delta Variant of COVID-19: Facts, Symptoms and What We Know so Far

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Since the Coronavirus became a pandemic, there have been new variations of the virus which have left scientists researching daily to find more clues about it.  Scientists and health experts call this process mutation. Mutation, according to the National Human Genome Research Institute (NIH) , is a change in a DNA sequence which can be as a result of  DNA copying mistakes made during cell division, exposure to ionizing radiation, exposure to chemicals called mutagens, or infection by viruses.  Viruses do this  to adapt and survive in new environments.

Although there have been approved vaccines to help fight the pandemic, there are still new variations. Variations such as the Alpha variant, the Beta variant, the Kappa variant and the C.37 or the Lambda variant exist. The latest of the COVID-19 variations is the Delta.

What is Known About the Delta Variant?

According to the American Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Delta variant, also known as B.1.617.2, emerged in India and is currently widespread. Evidence suggests that it is potentially more transmissible than other variants.

The CDC has indicated that the Delta variant can spread more easily in indoor settings than other variants. Currently, the Delta variant has been detected in more than 60 countries including Ghana. As of early July, it has become the dominant form of the coronavirus in the U.S., U.K., Germany, and other countries. In the U.K., for instance, the Delta variant now makes up more than 97% of new COVID-19 cases, according to Public Health England.

Are the symptoms of the Delta variant different?

Public health officials  say the symptoms of the Delta variant  are similar to those seen with the original coronavirus strain and other variants. This includes persistent cough, headache, fever, and sore throat which are symptoms already associated with the first strain of coronavirus.

However, WebMD reports that some COVID-19 patients in the UK  have reported slightly different symptoms for the Delta variant, according to data from the ZOE COVID Symptom Study. Cough and loss of smell seem to be less common. Headache, sore throat, runny nose, and fever seem to be more common.

How Deadly is the Delta Variant?

A recent study by The Lancet indicates that, given its faster spread, the Delta variant is likely to increase hospitalization and deaths, especially in people who have not received any of the approved vaccines.  

Health experts say the approved vaccines have shown some effectiveness against the Delta variant. According to  Public Health England, a preliminary analysis has shown that two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine appeared to be about 88% effective against disease prevention and 96% effective against hospitalization with respect to the Delta variant. The AstraZeneca vaccine, which has not been authorized for use in the U.S., was about 60% effective against disease and 93% effective against hospitalization.

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