KEY POINTS

  • At least 83 cases of the Delta Plus variant have been identified in the US
  • The Delta Plus variant was first identified in Europe in March
  • India has dubbed Delta Plus a “variant of concern”

India has sounded an alarm over a mutated version of the Delta variant after health officials recorded nearly two dozen cases in the country. 

The variant AY.1, also called locally Delta Plus, was first identified in Europe in March. Health officials have so far found at least 22 cases of the Delta Plus COVID-19 variant across India, according to the country’s health ministry, Aljazeera reported.

The Indian government has called Delta Plus a “variant of concern,” meaning it is more transmissible.

In the United Kingdom, Public Health England said it has detected 40 cases of the AY.1 variant, which acquired the K417N, or Delta Plus, mutation. 

The K417N mutation is also found in the Beta variant first detected in South Africa. Some scientists warn that the mutation could potentially make the Delta variant more transmissible. 

"The mutation K417N has been of interest as it is present in the Beta variant (B.1.351 lineage), which was reported to have immune evasion property," India’s health ministry was quoted as saying by Reuters.

Shahid Jameel, an Indian virologist, said the K417N mutation is known for reducing the body’s antibody response, according to the report.  

At least 83 cases of the Delta Plus variant have also been identified in the United States, prompting President Joe Biden to warn Americans of more deaths due to the “dangerous” variant. 

“Six hundred thousand-plus Americans have died, and with this delta variant you know there’s going to be others as well. You know it’s going to happen. We’ve got to get young people vaccinated,” Biden said, according to CNBC.

The president also warned that the new variant may be more transmissible among young people and unvaccinated Americans.  

“The data couldn’t be clearer: If you’re vaccinated, you’re safe. You are still at risk of getting seriously ill or dying if you in fact have not been vaccinated, that’s just the fact,” he added. 

Reportedly, the Delta Plus variant has also been detected in Portugal, Switzerland, Japan, Poland, Nepal, China, and Russia.

A recent study showed that the Delta variant is 60% more transmissible than the Alpha variant, which is believed to be 43% to 90% more transmissible than the original COVID-19 strain, according to WebMD

The B.1.617.2 Delta variant currently accounts for 20% of all new COVID-19 cases in the United States, as per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data. 

The Delta variant, also known as the Indian variant, is now the dominant strain in the UK The Delta variant, also known as the Indian variant, is now the dominant strain in the UK Photo: AFP / Niklas HALLE'N