Delta variant dominant in Gauteng can possibly cause ‘more severe disease’

Experts say movement must be limited to essential activities only

The virus that causes Covid-19 mutates and results in different variants. The Delta variant is dominant in Gauteng.
The virus that causes Covid-19 mutates and results in different variants. The Delta variant is dominant in Gauteng.
Image: 123RF/perig76

It has been confirmed the coronavirus Delta variant is dominant in Gauteng, accounting for 53% of infections, and is quickly taking over in the rest of the country and accounting for 45% of infections.

Preliminary data suggests this variant can cause more severe disease.

This “emphasises the need for all individuals in SA to limit their movements to essential activities only”.

The data was gleaned from genome sequencing done by the Network for Genomic Surveillance in SA, which includes top sequencing facilities at universities around the country.

According to the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), the network found during May this year 70% of 680 genomes were the Beta variant.

In June, this had dropped to 39% and the Delta variant had shot up to 45%.

According to the NICD, “Gauteng, undoubtedly the epicentre of the resurgence, presently accounts for an average of 65% of daily new cases. In that province, 64% of 244 genomes sequenced from May 2021 are attributed to the Beta variant, while in June 2021 this dropped to 37%.”

In contrast, during June 53% of genomes from Gauteng were the Delta variant.

The Delta variant, first detected in India, is 97% more transmissible than the original lineage, according to research done in the UK.

Covid-19 vaccines “remain highly effective in preventing severe disease after Delta variant infection, with the Pfizer-BioNT vaccine showing 96% efficacy after two doses”.

Prof Adrian Puren, acting head of the NICD, said there was “limited data” on whether Delta produces different symptoms to Beta, and added “it is important to be mindful that reinfection with the Delta variant is possible following a Beta infection due to waning of immunity”.

He said preliminary data from the UK suggests the Delta variant can “potentially cause more severe disease”.


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