Delta strain of Covid found in Victoria,14-day lockdown imminent

Near empty streets are seen in Melbourne, Wednesday, June 2, 2021. Victoria has recorded six new cases of coronavirus in the past 24 hours.(AAP Image/James Ross) NO ARCHIVING

The mysterious emergence of the highly transmissible Delta strain in Victoria could see the state extend its 14-day lockdown. Data from countries to have fought a Delta outbreak suggests the strain moves more easily among children than other strains of the coronavirus, prompting concern from the World Health Organisation. We look at all the key questions about the Delta variant, including where it came from, how it appeared in Australia and will the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines protect people against it.

What is the Delta variant?

Formerly known as B.1.617.2, or the Indian strain, Delta is the name given to a new variant of the strain which devastated India during its second wave.
Delta was found in Victoria on Friday, after genomic testing of a West Melbourne family who had tested positive after travelling to regional New South Wales. Two people in the family were infected.

Any link between the Sydney case in May, a man and his wife from the city’s eastern suburbs, and the two members of the Victorian family is unknown. At the time, it was believed there was no community spread of Delta in Sydney. The Sydney man visited many locations across Australia’s most populated city.

Where did the Victorian family travel?
They visited Goulburn and Jervis Bay before they became symptomatic and got tested.

Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Professor Brett Sutton said it’s possible the family got infected while in NSW but he said it is more likely that Delta was transmitted between two Grade 5 students at school.

Is Delta more transmissible between young people?

It could be. The Delta variant was found in 140 outbreaks in schools and educational settings in the United Kingdom, according to UK government data.

So just how contagious is Delta?

The World Health Organisaton (WHO) has categorised it as a variant of concern, stating it had “significantly increased transmissibility” and that a “growing number of countries (were) reporting outbreaks associated with this variant”.

How did Delta enter Australia?

That is not conclusively known. But it most likely emerged out of a hotel quarantine system.

Do the vaccines work against Delta?

Early data suggests the vaccines are a little less effective against Delta. But experts say after two doses the results give reason for confidence. Some studies show, after two doses, Pfizer is 88 per cent effective against Delta, with AstraZeneca lower at 59.8 per cent.

How do the second jabs work again?

Currently, all vaccines deployed in Australia need a second dose to be effective. Pfizer’s has a 21-day waiting period between doses, but there is a 12-week gap for AstraZeneca.
For those hoping the end was in sight, it’s a worrying development and the next few days will be key. Experts believe the lockdown will be extended if more cases of Delta are found.
The Alpha variant is the name given to the variant that hit the UK hard last year.

And the Kappa?

The Kappa variant was first detected in India and is the strain which was circulating in all cases in this latest Victoria outbreak – that is, until Delta was discovered.