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COVID-19: Delta variant spreads in Karachi

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KARACHI: “The presence of SARS-CoV-2 delta variant has been confirmed in the Sindh province and its local transmission is evident from the recently identified cluster. Researchers of the National Institute of Virology (NIV) at the Dr. Panjwani Center for Molecular Medicine and Drug Research (PCMD), University of Karachi are constantly monitoring the spread of this variant in the metropolis,” says a Press release.
Prof. Dr. M. Iqbal Choudhary, the Director of the International Center for Chemical and Biological Sciences (ICCBS), University of Karachi, and COMSTECH Coordinator General stated this while presiding over a meeting held at the PCMD on Tuesday.
He said that from June 25 to July 9, 2021, a total of 229 randomly selected samples were genotyped at the National Institute of Virology, which accounts for 24 percent of the total positive samples. Out of these genotyped samples, 15 percent of samples were detected as delta variants, he said, adding these delta variants have been identified in various parts of the city.
He maintained that 12 samples were observed as delta variant positive in the District East, while 23 were found from District Central.
Prof. Choudhary, during the meeting, warned that there was a dire need to take concrete steps in the city as the delta variant, which was previously dubbed as Indian variant, was responsible for the devastating second wave in India.
It is now circulating globally raising the fears of the new waves in countries, which have reasonably controlled the pandemic, he adds. WHO has designated the delta variant as the variant of concern and is 60 percent more transmissible than the alpha variant, he mentioned. Delta variant has two mutations in the spike protein L452R and E484Q, which are responsible for its distinct characteristics, he said, adding that the hallmark of this variant is increased transmissibility, more severe disease (e.g., increased hospitalizations or deaths), a significant reduction in neutralization by antibodies generated during previous infection or vaccination, and reduced effectiveness of treatments or vaccines. It is pertinent to mention here that the variant was identified in October 2020 in India.
In the backdrop of large-scale violation of corona SOPs in Pakistan, this variant has the potential to sweep a major chunk of the population within a short period, he maintained.