According to a computer model built by Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health, the Delta variant is about 60% more infectious than the original SARS-CoV-2 virus and may circumvent protection from the previous infection around half of the time.
Beta and Gamma are less contagious than Delta, although they are more immune to vaccination. Iota is more dangerous to the elderly than the initial infection.
Three investigations of SARS-CoV-2 variations have been released on the medRxiv pre-print site before being published in a peer-reviewed journal.
"New SARS-CoV-2 variants have spread, but vaccinations are still very effective in avoiding serious illness from these infections, so please be vaccinated if you haven't already," says Wan Yang, Ph.D. associate professor of epidemiology and study lead author.
"It's critical that we keep a careful eye on the spread of these variations so that we can direct future preventative efforts, vaccination campaigns, and vaccine efficacy evaluations. But, more fundamentally, we require global efforts to vaccinate all people globally and continue to use additional public health measures until a significant part of the population is protected by vaccination to prevent the generation of new variations and to stop the COVID-19 pandemic."
According to the researchers, the Delta variation of the COVID-19 is estimated to be 10 to 20% more transmissible than Alpha, another highly infectious variety of concern.
Furthermore, unlike Alpha, which has been proven to produce limited immune evasion, Delta has been demonstrated to be able to evade preexisting immunity in around half of those whom the ancestral strain has infected.
These findings are consistent with estimates from the United Kingdom that Alpha is 1.5 times more likely to cause infection (when the 10-20% increase in transmissibility is combined with a 50% increase in susceptibility due to immune evasion for prior natural infection and, to a lesser extent, vaccination).
The Delta form is more infectious than the Beta and Gamma variants, although it is less immune. The deployment of public health measures and meteorological circumstances in India contributed to a decrease in Delta cases beginning in early May.
However, virus transmission may be greater during the monsoon season (June-September) and winter (December-January). The Delta version was first discovered in December 2020, and by August 10, it has spread to 142 nations.
Alpha, Beta, and Gamma Variants
The other three SARS-CoV-2 variants now designated by the WHO as variations of concern that have spread internationally are Alpha, Beta, and Gamma. According to the researchers, Alpha is about 50% more transmissible than the original virus, although it has only a marginal capacity to overcome the protection afforded by past infection with the original SARS-CoV-2 strain.
Beta has a 30% increase in transmissibility and a 60% immune escape rate, whereas Gamma has a 40% increase in transmissibility and a 50% immune escape rate.
"Interesting" Iota Variant
A WHO variation of interest, Iota, is predicted to be 15-25 percent more transmissible and somewhat immune evasive than the original SARS-CoV-2 (0-10 percent ).
The study focused on New York City, where the Iota variant first appeared in November 2020 and found that Iota significantly increased infection-fatality risk among older adults when compared to preexisting variants: by roughly 45 percent among 45-64-year-olds, 80 percent among 65-74-year-olds, and 60 percent among those 75 and older, from November 2020 to April 2021.
Based on case and death data from the nation where each variant arose, the researchers constructed computer models of COVID-19 to predict the transmissibility and immune escape changes for each variant. Under-detection of infection, illness seasonality, concurrent non-pharmaceutical treatments, and mass vaccination were all factored into the models.
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