Delta strain ‘becoming more dominant’ in SA, particularly Gauteng
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DURBAN - PREMIER Sihle Zikalala is expected to announce the province’s revised measures for mitigating the third wave and the Delta variant on Wednesday.
This would also include an update on the infection trends in the province, vaccinations and a general state of readiness to deal with the third wave.
Zikalala is expected to be joined by Health MEC Nomagugu Simelane and Transport, Community Safety and Liaison MEC Peggy Nkonyeni.
They will also detail a plan of action by the Justice, Crime Prevention Cluster to monitor and enforce compliance with level 4 regulations.
The provincial Health Department said that as at Monday, they had vaccinated 129 609 health workers, 410 902 people aged 60 and over and 67 989 KwaZulu-Natal Education Department staff. A total of 613 282 people have been vaccinated with the Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson vaccines.
A total of 533 279 senior citizens had registered on the Electronic Vaccination Data System (EVDS).
The KZN Education Department said the vaccination roll-out would continue on Wednesday, including school governing body appointed teachers and teachers from independent schools.
On Tuesday, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) confirmed that the Delta variant was becoming more dominant in Gauteng after they performed genomic surveillance for Sars-CoV-2.
The Delta variant was said to have been detected in five of our provinces: the Eastern Cape, Free State, Gauteng, KZN and the Western Cape.
The NICD said genomic data from sequenced Covid-19 specimens during May, shows that 70% of 680 genomes were the Beta variant. However, in June genomes (541) sequenced from samples revealed a 31% drop in the Beta variant to 39%, with the Delta variant increasing and accounting for 45%.
Gauteng accounts for an average of 65% of daily new cases at present. Of the 244 genomes sequenced from May, 64% were attributed to the Beta variant; in June this dropped to 37%, while 53% of genomes (341) from Gauteng were the Delta variant.
Data from the UK showed that the Delta variant was 97% more transmissible than the original lineage. Covid-19 vaccines remained highly effective in preventing severe disease after Delta variant infection, with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine showing 96% efficacy after two doses.
The NICD’s acting executive director, Professor Adrian Puren, said it was important to be mindful that people who had been infected with the Beta variant were still susceptible to infection with the Delta variant, due to waning immunity. Limited data was available on whether the Delta variant caused different symptoms to those of previous strains. Preliminary data from the UK suggested that the Delta variant could cause more severe disease.
“It is not surprising that new variants have been detected in South Africa,” said Puren.
Given the current Covid-19 resurgence, other variants of concern, including the Alpha and Eta variants, were also detected in May and accounted for 6% and 1% respectively of the samples collected over the same period.
The Alpha variant accounts for 7% of infections sequenced in June. No Eta variant detections were recorded in samples collected that month.
These and other variants of concern are also being monitored globally because of concerns about possible increased transmissibility and immune evasion.