What is the Delta variant? Why are scientists warning Boris not to lift June 21 rules?

UK variant to be ‘renamed’ by WHO reveals Stephen Dixon

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Variant cases in the UK have raised concerns amongst local experts. Scientists and researchers fear the current trend is the beginning of a third Covid wave. And some have advised the Prime Minister against fully reopening the country in three weeks.

What is the Delta variant?

The culprit behind the recent rise in Covid cases is the B.1.1.7 variant.

Sequencers first identified B.1.1.7 – which has two distinct protein mutations – in India.

World health officials have renamed the variant and several others, directing countries away from using their colloquial monikers.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has renamed B.1.617 the “Delta” variant.

Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO’s COVID-19 technical lead, announced the news via Twitter yesterday.

She said people would find the new labels easier to remember, and they have the added benefit of directing focus away from any variant’s country of origin.

Dr Kerkhove said the new labels, based on the Greek alphabet, was chosen following “wide consultation”.

Speaking to Statnews, she explained the language would aid regular people when discussing the pandemic.

Dr Kerkhove said: “We’re not saying replace B.1.1.7, but really just to try to help some of the dialogue with the average person.

“So that in public discourse, we could discuss some of these variants in more easy-to-use language.”

Writing on Twitter, she added: “No country should be stigmatised for detecting and reporting variants.”

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B.1.1.7 is one of several variants now equipped with a new name.

The Kent, South African and Brazilian variants have received streamlined names as well.

They are now the Alpha, Beta and Gamma variants, respectively.

Despite the growing list, however, Delta remains the most concerning.

Why are scientists warning against June 21 reopening?

Delta first presented in India with two mutations; one that promotes infectivity and another responsible for puncturing the immune system.

By Monday, officials had confirmed 3,383 new cases, up from just over 1,000 in late May.

Professor Ravi Gupta, a Cambridge-based clinical microbiologist and Nervtag member, argued the “exponential” rise should convince officials to push back the June 21 reopening by “a few weeks”.

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