What is the Delta Variant? Is it different from Indian variant? Covid-19 strain explained

The Delta Variant has been in the news this week, but what is it?

There are a lot of Covid-19 variant names flying around, and it’s easy to be overwhelmed by all the information.

The Delta variant – previously known as the Indian variant – has become the dominant strain of coronavirus in Scotland and the rest of the UK.

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Cases of this variant rose 79% over the last week to 12,431, the UK Government has said.

It is between 30 per cent and 100 per cent more transmissible than the Alpha (Kent) variant, Professor Neil Ferguson told Radio 4’s Today programme.

But what is it, how did it develop, and how will it affect lockdown easing?

What is the Delta Variant?

The Delta Variant has become the dominant strain of Covid in Scotland (Getty Images)

Let’s begin by explaining all of its different names. This variant goes by more titles than Daenerys Targaryen.

It was initially called the Indian Variant, due to being first detected there in April this year.

But it was later renamed the April 02 Variant by the Scottish Government to avoid stigma in associating the variant with people from India.

However, the WHO (World Health Organisation) has now officially renamed the variant to Delta (B.1.617.2).

And finally, scientists call it VOC-21APR-02 (VOC is short for Variant of Concern).

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A variant is what happens when a virus replicates itself and the copy is slightly different.

Scientists say Covid-19 is changing all the time and there are thousands of new variants.

It only becomes an issue when it is more transmissible, or deadly, than the original virus.

The Delta variant has developed to spread more rapidly through the population, which is why UK leaders are being more cautious with the easing of lockdown.

The UK Government previously said there is no evidence this variant is more severe or evades the vaccine.

However, Public Health England has since said: “Early evidence suggests there may be an increased risk of hospitalisation for Delta compared to Alpha, although more data is needed for us to have more confidence in that finding.”

What has Nicola Sturgeon said about it?

At her latest coronavirus briefing this afternoon, Nicola Sturgeon said the Delta variant is driving a third wave of coronavirus.

The First Minister said: “Underlying this is the new Delta variant which now makes up the majority of all new cases in Scotland.

“This variant is thought to be quite significantly more transmissible than even the Kent variant we were dealing with at the turn of the year and there is early data suggesting that, all else being equal, it may increase the risk of hospitalisation.

“Now, hopefully, vaccines are reducing overall the risk of hospitalisation but even if it is a lower risk the early data suggests that this new Delta variant has a higher risk than the variants that went before it.”

What can we do about it?

The health advice is to keep following the rules, get tested for coronavirus often, and get two doses of the vaccine when it is offered to you.

People are encouraged to work from home if they can, meet people outside where possible, keep up hand washing and social distancing.

The latest Scottish Government advice can be found here.

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