The new 'delta plus' variant: 6 things to know

India has classified a new "delta plus" COVID-19 strain as a "variant of concern," the British Broadcasting Corporation reported.

 Six things to know:

1. The variant is related to delta, first identified in India last year, which now is estimated to account for about 20 percent of U.S. cases.

2. First detected in Europe, the new strain spreads more easily than other variants, according to India's health ministry. It also binds more easily to lung cells and potentially is resistant to monoclonal antibody therapy, early studies suggest.

3. The health ministry said the delta plus variant has been detected in 10 countries: the U.S., the U.K., Portugal, Switzerland, Japan, Poland, Nepal, Russia, China and India.  

4. The variant contains an additional mutation on the coronavirus spike that also is found in the beta and gamma variants, first detected in South Africa and Brazil, respectively.

5. Some virologists question India's labeling of delta plus as a variant of concern. "There is no data yet to support the variant of concern claim," said Dr. Gagandeep Kang, microbiologist, virologist and professor at Christian Medical College in India. "You need to study a few hundred patients who are sick with this condition and variant and find out whether they are at greater risk of greater disease than the ancestral variant."

6. On the other hand, "all lineages of the delta variant are variants of concern," so there's nothing unusual in labeling delta plus as such, said Anurag Agarwal, MD, director of the Delhi, India-based CSIR-Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology.


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