Dealing with the deadliest variant of COVID-19
COVID-19 has already made our life restricted, miserable and created a panic amongst us all. The Delta variant is a newcomer which started its devastating journey from India and by now has spread in more than fifty countries of the world. We know by now that the COVID-19 is highly infectious but the Delta variant is more than fifty times infectious than the alpha variant. It spreads very rapidly in the unvaccinated people and if health hygiene is not maintained.
The symptoms for the Delta variant are a bit different than the other previous variants. There is mild or no fever, malaise, headache, body ache, rhinitis and mild or no cough. But the classic symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, cough, sore throat, loss of appetite, diarrhoea and loss of smell, following which there was respiratory distress and fall of oxygen saturation.
Initial symptoms of the Delta variant are much milder and often ignored, thus spreads quickly. The Delta variant causes hypoxia earlier, hence the patient needs early hospitalisation but recovers quickly with timely supportive treatment and if not immunocompromised, not having uncontrolled diabetes, hypertension or asthma.
Research suggests the Delta variant affects less for those having two doses of vaccine. The encouraging point is that all the recommended vaccines produce some immunity against the Delta variant.
While an increase in infections alone is troubling and can lead to more deaths, both through the increase in cases and by overwhelming the health system, early research suggests that the Delta variant is possibly more dangerous than the Alpha variant and twice as likely to lead to hospitalisation. Mutations in the Delta variant make it replicate faster and evade the body's immunity mechanism. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), it is the 'fastest and fittest' variant yet. The Delta variant is 50-60% more transmissible than the Alpha variant.
Wearing a face mask properly does not have any alternative. Along with wearing masks, washing hands often with soap and water gives more protection. Social distancing is also important. Always avoid crowds and crowded places. Vaccinate yourself as and when you get the chance. Nutritious food, a healthy lifestyle & mental strength is important to combat COVID-19 infection as well as to prevent other diseases.
Very recently COVID-19 infection and death is increasing sharply in Bangladesh. We all need to be well alert and cautious to maintain hygiene properly. Community participation is mandatory to combat any infectious disease which is equally applicable for COVID-19. We all have to take the responsibility to combat the situation.
The author is a Professor of Paediatrics at Community Based Medical College, Mymensingh.