The Delta variant of the Coronavirus brings back the specter of the ‘red zone’ in the spotlight in an Italy that is about to become all white from Monday 28 June, with the promotion of the Aosta Valley. The variant, more contagious than its ‘colleagues’, is a global concern. To stem it, a dose of vaccine is not enough: two are needed. According to the circular from the Ministry of Health, the Delta variant (B.1.617.2) is 40-60% more transmissible than the Alpha (Β.1.1.7) and may be associated with a higher risk of hospitalization.
The ISS report highlights that “outbreaks of variants of the Sars-CoV-2 virus are also reported in Italy, in particular of the Delta variant, which have a greater transmissibility or potential to partially evade the immune response. The circulation of these variants has led to an unexpected increase in cases in other European countries with high vaccination coverage, therefore it is advisable to carry out a tracing and sequencing of cases “.
Against the Delta variant “we were among the first countries in the world to have a very very restrictive measure for the country in which this variant was found for the first time, namely India. From the first moment we have arranged a ‘ entry ban ‘, therefore an even stricter measure than the quarantine, which is still in force and which affects India, but also Bangladesh and Sri Lanka “, said Health Minister Roberto Speranza. “You have to know how to read the events moment by moment. At this moment we believe that the measures we have taken are sufficient”, he added.
However, the picture could change, even rapidly. Is there a concrete prospect of having to close where the Delta variant is particularly widespread? “Yes, it is the flexibility of the system”, Franco Locatelli, Coordinator of the CTS and President of the Superior Health Council, told Sky TG24 Live In Florence. “At the moment the country is a white zone but woe to let our guard down: we are in a more favorable situation and we can now evaluate different numbers than in the past. But the problem is not overcome,” he said.
Any closures fall within the “flexibility of the system, the same that we adopted for example for the areas of Umbria when there was the Brazilian variant”. “It is important to work more intensively on tracing and genotyping and sequencing approaches because only in this way will we be able to accurately intercept any signals of important diffusion of the Indian variant”.
On Monday, the Higher Institute of Health (ISS) will release the flash survery data to provide an accurate picture of the spread of B.1.617.2. Meanwhile, the preliminary numbers provide an appetizer: the English variant is the most widespread in our country with a percentage of 74.9% of the number of cases. But from the first reports of sequencing performed in June, an increase in the diffusion of the Delta variant emerges which – with the Kappa subtype – goes from 4.2% in May to 16.8%.