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Assiduously track the emerging Delta-plus variant. Remember the highly infectious Delta variant was first detected in October

Centre’s identification of the Delta-plus coronavirus as a “variant of concern” after it showed up in genome sequencing of samples from two districts each in Maharashtra, Kerala and Madhya Pradesh calls for greater national disease surveillance. This would translate to sending more Covid positive samples for genome sequencing, something not done adequately yet. It is important to get early intelligence on this variant’s extent of spread and asymptomatic infections, how vaccines work against this virus, and the progress of disease among those inoculated.

Also read: Govt labels Delta-plus ‘variant of concern’, urges caution

A number of states like Tamil Nadu, Jharkhand and Goa revealed this week that the Delta variant fanned their second waves. The Delta variant was first discovered in October 2020. The gestation period for the variant to trigger a recognisable spurt may be at least four months, given how cases in Vidarbha started mysteriously surging in February. The national picture currently represents a surprising skew where much of the south with better health facilities still records over 5% positivity rate, while the second wave appears to have largely subsided in the North.

The virus could still be transmitting undetected in areas with poor medical facilities. This could trigger another wave if states aren’t vigilant enough and not testing widely. Given the significant number of documented asymptomatic cases, states also need to supplement testing with commissioning serosurveys on a regular basis across all districts. The real time information generated from this pandemic is also vital to the country’s preparations for future epidemics. Let the waning of the second wave not cause disease surveillance efforts to flag.



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