Delta variant much riskier

The poster for ‘Fearful Alpha, Beta and Delta’ on Borneo Channel’s Facebook page.

KUCHING: Mutation in virus commonly occurs and sometimes makes it weaker, but the mutation of coronavirus into the Delta variant (B.1 617.2) unfortunately has made it even more dangerous.

A consultant paediatrician and neonatologist Datuk Dr Musa Mohd Nordin said the mutation which occurred on the virus’ antigen or spike protein caused it to be more transmissible and fatal.

He stated that the antigen or spike protein which enhances the virus’ ability to attach itself in the human body’s cell is what causes damage.

He said this during a live discussion on ‘Fearful Alpha, Beta and Delta’ on Borneo Channel’s Facebook page on Saturday (July 17).

Datuk Dr Musa Mohd Nordin

“The coronavirus becomes smarter as time goes by; this is why it mutated into new variants so that it is not susceptible to vaccine. The antigen or spike protein on the mutated variant can steer away from the vaccine, resulting in it being able to stick itself to the human body cell.

“As a result of this mutation, the Delta variant is more transmissible which means it can spread faster and increase the number of positive cases. Moreover, it also causes morbidities that could lead to hospital admission and even death.

“If we look at the United Kingdom (UK), a large percentage of its Covid-19 cases are from the Delta variant and this variant has spread to other parts of Europe at a rapid pace,” he explained.

Dr Musa who is based in KPJ Damansara Specialist Hospital pointed out that the Delta variant has higher percentage rate in several detrimental consequences in comparison to the Beta variant.

The first Delta case was identified in December last year which soon spread rapidly that it became the dominant strain of the coronavirus in both India and the UK.

As a result of its nature, the World Health Organisation (WHO) had called this version of the virus as the ‘fastest and fittest’.

“The Beta variant which was found in South Africa has 60 percent risks of hospital admission in comparison to the Delta variant from India at 120 percent. The risk of intensive care unit (ICU) admission for Beta variant is 100 percent, but Delta variant is almost tripled at 290 percent.

“While the risks of death with Beta variant saw an increase of 60 percent, Delta is at 140 percent. Due to these significant differences in percentage, the Delta variant is very critical and must be handled wisely,” he explained.        

Meanwhile, Associate Professor Dr Helmy Hazmi said there is a need to take what occurred in India as a lesson in order to prevent similar situation happening here. 

The public health physician currently working in the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas) pointed out that India had let down their guard and became too confident which led to a widespread of the Delta variant.

Associate Professor Dr Helmy Hazmi

“At the time, they became overconfident because they were one of the vaccine manufacturing countries. There were social activities and religious ceremony which took place at the Ganges River as well as their election.

“Unfortunately, this became the catalyst which caused the virus to become highly transmissible and resulted in the mutation to the Delta variant,” he explained.

Dr Helmy noted that one of the characteristics of the Delta variant which make it spread easily within high density communities is its ability to escape from one’s immune system.

He said the death rate relating to the Delta variant is very alarming and poses a greater risk to those who have yet to get themselves vaccinated with the vaccines available.

“Studies have shown that those with comorbidities are often an incubator to the viruses. This is very dangerous because it leads to the emergence of new variants that is more effective in its transmission with perhaps different signs and symptoms from the initial variant.  

“Sometimes when a virus mutates, it becomes weaker but this is not the case with the Delta variant. A high 60 to 90 percent of transmissible rate for this variant is worrying as it is higher than the Alpha or Beta variant,” he added.

The live discussion on Borneo Channel’s Facebook page.