Story at a glance
- The delta plus variant is a version of the delta variant with a few different mutations.
- It has been detected in at least 33 countries worldwide.
- Experts are collecting data to understand more about the delta plus variant and how it compares to other variants.
The delta plus variant, which is a version of the delta variant that has additional mutations, has been found in the U.S. It was originally first identified in the U.K. and is now increasing in India and the U.S.
As of this week, 64 cases of the delta plus variant of the coronavirus have been detected by the Santa Clara County Public Health Department in California. The delta plus variant is also known in three subtypes. It’s not yet the dominant variant in Santa Clara County, but experts are keeping an eye on it.
Health experts are still learning more about the delta plus variant and how it compares to other variants. “We believe that it’s at least as bad as Delta,” says Peter Chin-Hong, who is an infectious disease specialist at the University of California San Francisco, to CBS. “We don’t know if it’s even worse than Delta yet. When I say worse we think about number one: is it more transmissible? Number two, does it evade vaccines? And, number three, does it make you sicker?”
There’s very little data now about how the delta plus variant is affecting people and whether it is worse. It’s been found in 33 countries, but cases remain low at around 500 sequences, according to Outbreak.info. “Having additional variants is going to be expected with any virus,” says Yvonne Maldonado, who is professor of Global Health & Infectious Diseases at Stanford University School of Medicine, to CBS. “The fact there’s a Delta plus doesn’t mean this is going to be any better or worse. At this point, we just don’t know.”
Whether we are detecting delta plus is also dependent on how much sequencing is being done. And even as we are finding new cases, we will have to continue to collect more data about the cases and the context around those cases to be able to learn more about the variant. “We really didn't see Delta in any real appreciable way until May of this year, and now it's become the most common variant- and we're learning even today, two months later about it,” says Maldonado to ABC. “So it may take longer for us to understand really what the Delta plus is doing.”
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