KARACHI: As many as 65 cases of the Delta variant have been detected at a Karachi University (KU) research facility in two days, taking the total tally of this specific coronavirus strain in the city to 107 in the current month.

According to KU officials, the National Institute of Virology (NIV) processed a total of 2,062 samples received from the health department from July 12 to 13.

Out of the 163 samples found positive, 94 were randomly selected for genotyping, which revealed 65 Delta (India) variant cases — which makes 69 per cent of the total samples genotyped — two Beta (South Africa) variants, 25 unidentified variants and two cases of a wild-type variant.

“The 25 unidentified variants might be Delta plus variant — a mutation of the Delta variant — or a new variant,” said Prof Dr M. Iqbal Choudhary, director of the International Centre for Chemical and Biological Sciences (ICCBS) at KU, in a statement.

Transmissibility of this variant is 50pc higher than other variants

The presence of the SARS-CoV-2 Delta variant had already been confirmed in Sindh and its local transmission was evident from the recently identified cluster, the statement added.

Earlier, the research facility had detected 35 Delta variant cases out of the 229 samples randomly selected for genotyping from June 25 to July 9; 12 cases pertained to areas in District East while 23 to District Central.

Sources said the total number of Delta variant cases recorded by the health department from June 1 till July 13 now stands at 131; earlier 42 cases were recorded in the current month while 24 in June.

The tests were largely conducted at Aga Khan University, NIV and National Institute of Health, Islamabad.

Last month, 24 cases of the Delta variant were recorded by the health department.

According to experts, the main features of this variant are increased transmissibility, more severe disease and a significant reduction in neutralisation of antibodies generated during previous infection or vaccination, and reduced effectiveness of treatments or vaccines.

“It’s more dangerous than other coronavirus variants and has become a major concern in several countries. Even in the US, the Delta variant currently constitutes 25pc of the total positive cases,” said Dr Atif Hafeez Siddiqui of the Pakistan Islamic Medical Association, adding that the transmissibility of this particular variant was 50pc higher than other variants.

Asked about vaccines’ efficacy against this variant, he said while complete data on this subject wasn’t available, international figures suggested that Covid-19 vaccines such as Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Moderna had 90pc efficacy against it.

“Though concrete data on Chinese vaccines is lacking, we know that the Delta variant has reached China’s Wuhan city and that no person has died of this variant there. Hence, we can say that the Chinese vaccines might not save from infection, it would help minimise chances of disease severity and mortality,” Dr Siddiqui pointed out.

About treatment, he said patients had high chances of recovery if diagnosed in time as some commonly available antiviral medicines had been found effective against this variant.

Meanwhile as many as 25 more patients of coronavirus died overnight and 1,466 new cases were registered when 15,201 tests were conducted, stated Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah in a statement issued here on Thursday.

The death of 25 patients lifted the death toll to 5,672 that constituted 1.6pc death rate.

Published in Dawn, July 16th, 2021

Opinion

Editorial

Election time
Updated 27 Jan, 2023

Election time

There are concerns whether the ECP will be sufficiently able to protect the integrity of elections if they are held under partisan governments.
SCO invite
27 Jan, 2023

SCO invite

THOUGH India’s invitation to Pakistan to attend the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation events in Goa later this ...
Call to arms
27 Jan, 2023

Call to arms

ONE way the state abdicates responsibility in Pakistan is by farming out its functions to the private sector. In ...
Nuclear miscalculations
26 Jan, 2023

Nuclear miscalculations

IF the claim of former US secretary of state Mike Pompeo, that Pakistan and India came close to a nuclear exchange...
Exchange rate cap
26 Jan, 2023

Exchange rate cap

THE ‘management’ of the exchange rate by the State Bank, allegedly at the behest of the government, to ward off...
Fawad’s arrest
Updated 26 Jan, 2023

Fawad’s arrest

Does the state really need to fan public discontent in a period as fraught with uncertainty as this?