The recently discovered ‘Delta plus’ variant of the novel coronavirus could result in the third wave of Covid infections in Maharashtra, the state health department said on Wednesday.
“The number of active patients could reach up to eight lakh, while 10% out of them could be children,” said the department in a presentation attended by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray.
In a meeting held to review the Covid-19 situation in the state, the health officials informed that there were around 19 lakh cases in the first wave of Covid (post-March 2020 outbreak).
However, in the more severe second wave, (which started around mid-February 2021) over 40 lakh infections have been detected so far in Maharashtra.
In the first wave, the number of patients was highest at 3,01,752 on 13 September 2020, while it was 6,99,858 on 22 April this year during the second wave of Covid-19.
The weekly positivity rate was 23.53% on 9 September, which was the highest in the first wave, and it reached 24.96% on 8 April this year, officials said.
“The Delta plus variant could stoke the third wave in Maharashtra. It could spread at double the rate,” said an official.
Following this, CM Thackeray asked officials to be prepared to deal with any situation in terms of the availability of medicines, beds and other necessary resources.
“If we do not follow Covid-19-appropriate behaviour, we would be hit by the third wave before we can fully recover from the second one,” an official release quoted Thackeray as saying.
“We have learned lessons from the first and second waves. We have been told that Maharashtra would get around 42 crore vaccine vials from August-September. The officials need to make all necessary preparations,” he added.
Maharashtra has been one of the worst hit by the Covid-19 pandemic and is slowly emerging out of the second wave with some lockdown-like norms easing.
But the state task force to tackle Covid has pointed out that in some EU countries, lockdown-like measures were re-introduced following a surge in cases.
Not yet a variant of concern
Earlier this week, scientists in New Delhi said the highly transmissible Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2 has mutated further to form the ‘Delta plus’ or ‘AY.1′ variant.
However, there is no immediate cause for concern in India as its incidence in the country is still low, they added.
The new Delta plus variant has been formed due to a mutation in the Delta or B.1.617.2 variant, first identified in India and one of the drivers of the deadly second wave, they had said.
The central government has said that the newly detected strain is not yet classified as a ‘variant of concern’.
“It has been seen in Europe since March and was brought into the public domain on 13 June,” Dr VK Paul, Member-Health, Niti Aayog, said on Tuesday.
Paul further said that the ‘Delta plus’ variant of Covid-19 is a variant of interest and has not yet been classified as a variant of concern.
“As per data available in the public domain, this variant nullifies the use of a monoclonal antibody. We will study and learn more about this variant,” the Niti Aayog member said.