Doctors in China have said that patients are becoming sicker, and their conditions are worsening much more quickly as the Delta variant of the coronavirus, first identified in India, spreads in southeastern China.
The symptoms are different and more dangerous than those they saw when the initial version of the virus started spreading in late 2019 in Wuhan, they said, adding that four-fifths of symptomatic cases developed fevers, as per a New York Times report.
The virus concentrations that are detected in the patients’ bodies climb to levels higher than previously seen and then decline only slowly, the doctors said.
Up to 12% of patients become severely or critically ill within three to four days of the onset of symptoms, NYT quoted Guan Xiangdong, director of critical care medicine at Sun Yat-sen University in the city of Guangzhou, where the outbreak has been centered.
In the past, the proportion had been 2% or 3%, although occasionally up to 10%, he said.
The testimonies from China are the latest indication of the dangers posed by Delta, which the World Health Organization last month labeled a “variant of concern”.
First identified this spring in India, where it was blamed for widespread suffering and death, Delta has since also become the dominant variant in Britain, where doctors suggest that it is more contagious and may infect some people who have received only one of two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine.
In its latest risk assessment for SARS-C0V-2 variants, Public Health England (PHE) has said a staggering 61% of the samples sequenced are now of the Delta variant (B.1.617.2). This means the Delta variant is more dominant in the UK than the Alpha variant that had last year triggered a surge in the UK, Indian Express reported.
Multiple SARS-CoV-2 variants are circulating globally, one of which is the B.1.617 lineage, detected in India earlier this year. Early evidence suggests that its sub-lineage B.1.617.2, known as the Delta variant, is more transmissible than contemporary lineages.
The World Health Organizaton (WHO), which has given it the label Delta, has categorised it as a variant of concern (VOC). It has said it continues to observe “significantly increased transmissibility” and a “growing number of countries reporting outbreaks associated with this variant”.