Infectionist, Honored Doctor of Ukraine Olga Golubovskaya talks about the features and dangers of the Delta variant of the coronavirus.
The Delta strain has 15 different mutations compared to the original virus. Only two of them help the virus to avoid antibodies, but that’s a lot. According to Golubovskaya, the P681R mutation is responsible for the “adhesion” of the virus to human cells and causes the formation of syncytium – tissues with incomplete cell delineation. At the same time, the syncytia created by Delta are much more extensive than natural ones and cause “literally an explosive increase in viral load”, causing a higher contagiousness (infectiousness). The infectious disease specialist explains:
Delta’s ability to form syncytia helps it escape the immune system and makes the virus more dangerous to the body. In the process of reproduction, viruses damage the cellular apparatus and create copies of themselves, which, after cell death, enter the intercellular space and only there are attacked by neutralizing antibodies.
After the cells have fused into the syncytium, the Delta virus that is inside escapes the action of the antibodies produced after vaccination and partially escapes them. This effect is most pronounced in elderly people.
According to a study by British scientists, after vaccination with the first dose, protection against infection is approximately 30%, and the prevention of hospitalization is 75%. After the second vaccination, these indicators change by 80% and 94%, respectively.
The Delta variant causes especially great damage to tissues and organs, in particular the lungs, therefore Golubovskaya urges not to ignore the threat of a dangerous strain and get vaccinated in order to “build up” immunity. But even after a full vaccination, it is advisable to avoid crowded places and be sure to wear masks – for another one to two weeks after vaccination, you remain vulnerable. And yet, no matter how trite it sounds, it is desirable to improve your health, remember about proper nutrition and good sleep.