It causes 70% of new contaminations in Landes. It is found all over France and causes always more clusters in Île-de-France or Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur: variant Delta is now the public enemy No.1 in France. According to the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control, “variant Delta could represent 90% of new Covid-19 cases in the European Union by the end of August”.
This variant has been found in 85 countries, urging leaders to pass new restrictions. It is said to be 40 to 60% more contagious than variant alpha (also called UK variant). Variant Delta seems like a new global threat likely to prevent putting an end to this pandemic. But what do we know about this virus?
Variant Delta was first called Indian variant since it is where it has been found first. It is extremely contagious but seems to react well against vaccines: Pfizer is 80% effective against the outbreak of symptoms related to this variant, and AstraZeneca is 60% effective. Yet, it requires several doses of vaccine to be perfectly protected against this mutation. Haute Autorité de Santé member Professor Jean-Daniel Lelièvre – interviewed by Le Figaro – yet claims one dose already helps avoiding severe infection, reducing hospitalization risk.
In France, this variant is mostly found in Landes. The rest of the territory only reports it causes 9 to 10% of new cases. Its quick spread worries authorities fearing a new epidemic surge. “There is a variant Delta-related threat”, Gabriel Attal claimed this June 23 on BFMTV. In Gers, two people aged 42 and 60 have died of Covid-19 and variant Delta. The Haute Autorité de Santé recommends mass vaccination in the territory given the first death cases.
A fourth wave is likely to crash France at the end of summer. To prevent this scenario, scientists insist on the importance of getting vaccinated and complying with health guidelines. “It is now, we need to nip its spread in the bud”, epidemiologist Philippe Amouyel claims in Le Parisien. The expert advocates for a strategy that has been working well already: spotting sick, testing their relatives, and isolating all those infected to stop the spread of the virus.
All scientists also work for massive vaccination in the youngest. “This variant spreads five times more in people under 25 than in those over 65 years of age”, Amouyel reveals. Young people are not immunized enough, the variant can attack them more easily. This June 23, infectious disease specialist Anne-Claude Crémieux was sorry to see the very weak proportion of French fully vaccinated. Many specialists yet think it is necessary to vaccinate people under 18 to reinforce herd immunity.
Epidemiologist Amouyel claims, “we need to target people under 18”. A measure the Haute Autorité de Santé seems to approve since they have recommended to vaccinate the entire entourage of people who tested positive to one of the Covid-19 variants.
Variant Delta is also dangerous because it is harder to identify first. Symptoms develop in another way: people sick feel a headache, abdominal discomfort, runny nose, sore throat, fever, and sometimes a slight hearing loss. Symptoms of an average cold therefore putting infected people’s suspicion out.
But the threat does not stop there: the Indian Health Secretary revealed they have discovered an even more concerning variant, the Delta Plus. It has been immediately listed as “variant of concern” by the Indian health authorities. According to the first studies, it has an even more increased transmission, a more solid bound with the receptors on pulmonary cells, and likely diminishes the monoclonal antibodies’ response.
According to Amouyel, this multiplication of variants is not about to stop: “We are making it to the end of the system. As long as other countries are not vaccinated, another variant can still break out and come to us”.