Experts warn that the B.1.617 variant of coronavirus is spreading at a ‘frightening speed’ worldwide and could make the pandemic worse, particularly in countries with low vaccination rates. The B.1.617 strain was recently named the Delta variant of Covid-19 by the WHO.
Professor Teo Yik Ying, Dean of the National University of Singapore’s Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health, was quoted as saying “The new variant of Covi-19 has the potential to unleash a bigger pandemic storm than the world has previously seen,”. Ying further added that “B.1.617 has mutated to spread more easily from person to person and may decrease the protection conferred by vaccines as well as natural infection, though only slightly.” Even in the UK, experts have warned that the B.1.617 variant of Covid-19 could “pick up speed and become a big problem.”
According to the WHO, the variant, which was first witnessed by India in October 2020, is now present in more than 50 countries and is surpassing other strains causing infections. The strain is 1.5-2X more transmissible than the strain that first appeared in Wuhan 18 months ago. As of now, Covid-19 has three versions i.e., B.1.617—B.1.617.1, B.1.617.2, and B.1.617.3.
While it is unclear whether or not B.1.617 causes more serious illness or deaths, the best weapon remains widespread vaccination in every country. Vaccinated individuals have a very less chance of being infected, and a much lower likelihood of developing severe symptoms even if they are infected with Covid-19.