We shouldn’t take the Delta threat lightly.

Cruise to Alaska. (Dr. Noorali Bharwani)
Cruise to Alaska. (Dr. Noorali Bharwani)

When we are in a crisis situation our thinking tends to go in high gear. We tend to become innovative and look for growth opportunities. We recognise our strengths and weaknesses. We try to find solutions in a hurry. Look at COVID-19 pandemic. It has changed how we think and it has changed the future of health care.

Now that we seem to be getting control of COVID-19, the virus is trying to outsmart us.

When first cases of the SARS-CoV-2 Delta variant were detected in the United Kingdom in mid-April, the nation was getting ready to open up. This had to be delayed. The fear of Delta variant virus has spread all over the world.

These variants seem to spread more easily and quickly than other variants, which may lead to more cases of COVID-19. These variants may be associated with different symptoms. An increase in the number of cases will put more strain on healthcare resources, lead to more hospitalizations, and potentially more deaths.

According to Alberta Health Care website, anyone who has been infected with a variant strain will test positive for COVID-19. Positive tests are screened again for all variants to determine the exact strain. To date, four variants of concern have been identified in Alberta.

B.1.1.7 (Alpha): This variant was first detected in the United States in December 2020. It was initially detected in the United Kingdom. It’s estimated to be around 50 percent more transmissible than the version of the pandemic coronavirus. According to fresh data, two variants now threaten Alpha’s reign: Delta and Gamma. Delta is considered the most concerning variant seen yet.

B.1.351 (Beta): This variant was first detected in the United States at the end of January 2021. It was initially detected in South Africa in December 2020.

P.1 (Gamma): This variant was first detected in the United States in January 2021. P.1 was initially identified in travellers from Brazil, who were tested during routine screening at an airport in Japan, in early January.

B.1.617.2 (Delta): This variant was first detected in the United States in March 2021. It was initially identified in India in December 2020.

There are several reasons why Delta variant is highly dangerous. Mutations in the Delta variant make it replicate faster and evade the body’s immune mechanism. According to WHO, it is the fastest and fittest variant yet. The Delta variant is 50 – 60 per cent more transmissible than Alpha variant which was 50 – 60 per cent more transmissable than the original strain of COVID-19.

One vaccine dose is not enough to protect you. Two doses of vaccine are strongly protective. Two weeks after receiving a second dose, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine appeared to provide 79 per cent protection against infection with the Delta variant, compared with 92 per cent protection against the Alpha variant.

Scientists are debating whether we should take a booster dose against Delta variant. This is currently unknown. So far, studies suggest that the current authorized vaccines work on the circulating variants.

The Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca vaccines currently available in Alberta offer protection against infection and may offer protection against severe outcomes with variants. However, the level of protection may vary depending on the variant and the number of doses received.

Viruses constantly change through mutation, and new variants of a virus are expected to occur. Do not lower your guard. Be vigilant. Get vaccinated. Wear a mask. Maintain social distancing and wash your hands frequently.

Take care. It is not over until it is over!

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