Following a spike in Covid-19 cases in the United Kingdom, experts expressed concern that the modified strain, which was first detected in the UK, could exacerbate ongoing coronavirus transmission.
The former Food and Drug Administration commissioner has called for “urgent research” on the Delta Plus variant following a new surge in the United Kingdom.
At the time of writing, it is known that the subvariant contains the K417N mutation, which is associated with an increased risk of reinfection. In a new study, a group of German researchers discovered a new set of characteristics that make the delta plus variant more deadly.
A study led by Stefan Pöhlmann and Markus Hoffman of the German Primate Centre demonstrated that the Delta Plus strain is more powerful at penetrating lung cells and resisting treatment than other variants.
Additionally, they determined that two coronavirus-specific therapeutic antibodies were ineffective against the Delta Plus strain.
They found that the Delta strain was resistant to only bamlanivimab, whereas the Delta Plus variant was resistant to both bamlanivimab and etesevimab, which are used to treat COVID-19 patients.
According to the researchers, the rapid spread of the Delta and Delta Plus variants is likely due to their resistance to antibody inhibition following infection or vaccination.
Not to fear though, as Stefan Pöhlmann said:
Antibodies generated by the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines, on the other hand, were less efficient against the Delta and Delta Plus variants when compared to the original virus.
In a series of cell culture tests, the researchers demonstrated that the Delta variant is more effective than the original variant at entering lung cells.
They also discovered that the Delta variant is better at merging infected and uninfected lung cells.
Arora Prerna, a scientist at the German Primate Centre who led two studies probing the Delta and Delta Plus variants, said: “It is conceivable that by fusing cells in the repertory tract, the Delta variant may spread more efficiently and induce more damage.
“This could contribute to a more severe course of COVID-19.”
Markus Hoffmann added: “Our studies show that heterologous vaccination induces significantly more neutralising antibodies to delta than two vaccination shots of Oxford-AstraZeneca.
“Individuals who have received such a heterologous vaccination may have a very good immune protection against Delta and Delta Plus.”
Former US Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb tweeted on Sunday that researchers must determine whether the Delta Plus virus is more transmissible and whether it may circumvent COVID-19 immunity to any extent.
The Delta Plus strain contains the K417N mutation, which has sparked worry because it is linked to an increased risk of reinfection.
The commissioner tweeted: “The UK reported its biggest one-day case increase in three months just as the new delta variant AY.4 with the S:Y145H mutation in the spike reaches 8 percent of UK sequenced cases.
UK reported its biggest one-day Covid case increase in 3 months just as the new delta variant AY.4 with the S:Y145H mutation in the spike reaches 8% of UK sequenced cases. We need urgent research to figure out if this delta plus is more transmissible, has partial immune evasion?— Scott Gottlieb, MD (@ScottGottliebMD) October 17, 2021
“We need urgent research to figure out if this Delta Plus is more transmissible [or] has partial immune evasion.”
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