COVID-19 Delta variant can spread as quickly as someone just passing by – expert
MANILA, Philippines — A doctor who is part of the government’s advisory group on COVID-19 response warned the public Wednesday that the new coronavirus Delta variant can be transmitted through “fleeting contact” or as rapidly as an infected person merely passing by.
Dr. Edsel Salvana said that based on the latest studies, a person carrying the COVID-19 Delta variant does not need 15 minutes to infect others, who then could also transmit the virus to others in no time.
The COVID-19 Delta variant, which was first discovered in India, is just among several variants of SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes serious respiratory illness COVID-19. The other variants are identified as Alpha (first detected in the United Kingdom), Beta (first detected in South Africa), Gamma (first detected in Brazil), Theta (first detected in the Philippines), and Lambda (first detected in Peru), among others. To date, experts say the Delta variant appears to be “highly contagious.”
“Dati kasi (Before) it takes about three days for somebody to become contagious, but ‘yong sa (with) Delta (variant), baka (maybe as little as 30 hours from exposure, somebody can become contagious. Highly contagious even when asymptomatic kasi ang taas po talaga ng (because it really has a high) amount of virus,” explained Salvana, a member of the Department of Health-Technical Advisory Group, during a House hearing on the government’s COVID-19 response.
“And ito ‘yong pinaka-nakakabahala, ‘yong usual na sinasabi natin na close contact na 15 minutes or more with less than one meter, it seems that this virus is capable of fleeting contact lang. In other words, magdaan lang kayo, tapos hindi ka naka-mask or pangit ‘yong paggamit mo ng mask at face shield, pwede ka nang mahawa dahil ang dami-dami pong virus na ibinubuga ng taong may Delta (variant),” he added.
(And this is what worries us the most: the usual close contact of 15 minutes or more with less than one meter may lead to infections, it seems that this virus is capable of fleeting contact only. In other words, if you walk across each other, and then you do not wear masks or if you wear them improperly, you can get infected because a person that has the variant scatters so many viral particles.)
Also, Salvana said individuals vaccinated against COVID-19 who acquire the Delta variant can infect other people at the same rate as when unvaccinated people have it.
Salvana was referring to a study in China — where the COVID-19 pandemic started — which showed that patients carrying the Delta variant have a thousand times more virus particles than the original variant.
Such observations were also seen by the United States (US) Center for Disease Control, Salvana said, as vaccinated patients become more infectious even if they do not necessarily manifest severe COVID-19 symptoms due to the Delta variant.
“And this is also something that came out from the Center for Disease Control na nakita nila na (which they saw that) in the past, we know that the people who are vaccinated who end up with breakthrough infections are a lot less contagious than people who are not vaccinated,” Salvana said.
“Pero (But) because there are so many virus particles in Delta (variant), even people who are vaccinated can transmit to a lot of people although the person who is already vaccinated is more or less protected from severe disease,” he added.
The threat posed by the Delta variant in the Philippines has forced the national government to again place Metro Manila under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) from August 6-20.
This is the fourth time Metro Manila was placed under hard lockdown since the pandemic reached the Philippines in 2020.
While it is still unclear if most of the cases in the country are already of the Delta variant, analytics group OCTA Research projected last week that seven percent of the country’s active patients may already be carrying the Delta variant.
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