Scientists have so far not detected any different symptoms caused by the “Delta Plus” variant in Ireland, an initial examination of cases of the more transmissible strain has shown.
There have been 90 cases of subvariant detected in Ireland. The Health Protection Surveillance Centre looked at 85 cases identified as of October 29th and found 54 people had symptoms but no symptoms specific to the strain were identified where detailed information was available.
Further details on the Delta sub-lineage – known by its scientific name AY.4.2 – is expected when the HPSC publishes its next surveillance report on Covid-19 variants in circulation in the State.
UK health authorities have classified the Delta Plus variant – a relative of the Delta strain that is dominant in Ireland and Britain – as a “variant under investigation” after British scientists said that it is appeared to be 10 to 15 per cent more transmissible than the original Delta variant.
The subvariant has been detected in at least 42 countries. Scientific data in the UK suggests that the subvariant may have contributed to the increase in the spread of the virus there.
There is no evidence to suggest that the new variant causes more severe illness or greater mortality than the Delta variant or that it more effective at breaching the protection from Covid-19 vaccines.
Northern Ireland’s Public Health Agency confirmed this week that 125 cases of the subvariant had been detected in Northern Ireland as of October 27th.
“While evidence is still emerging, so far it does not appear this variant causes more severe disease or renders the vaccines currently deployed any less effective,” said Dr Brid Farrell, deputy director of public health at the PHA.
“Identification of a case or cases of this variant in Northern Ireland was inevitable at some point, particularly as society has opened up in recent months and most restrictions have been lifted.”
The National Public Health Emergency Team has said that the Delta Plus variant may have a small transmission advantage over the original Delta strain but that it is not driving the recent increase in Covid-19 cases during this fourth wave of infections.
The Delta variant is about 60 per cent more transmissible than the Alpha variant first identified in the UK that caused Ireland’s third wave of the disease last winter. The Alpha variant was about 50 per cent more transmissible than the original virus first detected in the Chinese city of Wuhan.