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The Delta variant of COVID-19 (also known as B16172), which was first detected in India in October last year, is becoming the dominant variant of the disease worldwide. It is spreading rapidly across the globe and being vaccinated may not be enough to protect yourself from this highly contagious variant, the agency said asking people to continue wearing masks, maintain social distancing and other Covid-appropriate behaviours.
"People cannot feel safe just because they had the two doses. They still need to protect themselves. Vaccine alone won't stop community transmission. People need to continue to use masks consistently, be in ventilated spaces, hand hygiene ... the physical distance, avoid crowding. This still continues to be extremely important, even if you're vaccinated when you have a community transmission ongoing," Mariangela Simao, WHO assistant director-general for access to medicines and health products, said during a news briefing, as quoted by IANS.
Delta variant, which was declared a "variant of concern" last month, has now spread to at least 92 countries, according to Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO's technical lead for Covid. She also said that the Delta variant is more transmissible than the Alpha variant, which was itself extremely transmissible across Europe.
Earlier on Friday, at a WHO press briefing, the agency's Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has warned that the Delta variant is the "most transmissible" of the variants identified so far and is spreading rapidly among unvaccinated populations.
Recently, a study by researchers at the Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology found that Delta variant may even bypass immunity and trigger reinfection in those initially infected with the virus. This coronavirus strain has a particular collection of mutations that makes it more infectious, increases the viral load in humans, and produces larger outbreak clusters, they said. The B.1.617 is known to contain mutations from two different virus variants, E484Q and L452R.
According to Dr Anurag Agarwal, one of the authors of the study and director of the Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology, the Delta variant has the highest level of transmissibility observed so far. It can weaken neutralisation protection from past infections and vaccinations.
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