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Delta, Delta Plus, Kappa, Lambda: All Covid-19 Variants Explained

(Representational Photo: Shutterstock)

(Representational Photo: Shutterstock)

Aside from the Delta Plus variation, four new varieties have gained the attention of health experts.

Two cases of the Kappa strain of Covid-19 have now been discovered in Uttar Pradesh, after two patients were identified with having the Delta plus strain in Deoria and Gorakhpur.

Amid increasing cases of Delta plus variant in India, other variants have become a topic of concern after India’s recent encounter with a deadly second wave. Aside from the Delta Plus variation, four new varieties have gained the attention of health experts. B.1.617.3, a relative of the Delta variant; B.11.318, which contains 14 mutations; Lambda, a variant discovered by Public Health England and classed as a variant of interest (VOI) by the World Health Organization; and Kappa or B.1.617.1 are among the variants.


The Delta variant, first discovered in India, has been attributed as the driver behind the country’s devastating second covid wave, which saw cases and deaths rise exponentially. According to a study, vaccines are also eight times less effective against the variant, as compared to the original strain found in Wuhan, China.


The variant is known to have extra transmissibility, as well as causing more severe symptoms in patients. Other countries are now also reporting increasing cases of the variant, including UK and Israel. According to a recent report, the Delta variant is reportedly responsible for over 90% of recent cases in Israel, which lifted restrictions in June, although around 57% of the population is vaccinated.

Delta Plus

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. Some cases of the ‘Delta plus’ variant of Covid-19, considered highly infectious, have been reported in Maharashtra threatening to massively dent the state’s fight against the virus as experts warn that this variant may trigger a third wave of the pandemic in the state.

It has been detected in nine countries, including UK, Portugal, Switzerland, Poland, Japan, Nepal, China, and Russia, apart from India. Preliminary studies seem to suggest that apart from the usual dry cough, fever, tiredness, aches and pains, skin rashes, toes and fingers discoloration, sore throat, conjunctivitis, loss of taste and smell loss, diarrhea, and headache, chest pain, breathlessness, shortness of breath, and speech loss, Delta plus patients also exhibited stomach ache, nausea, appetite loss, vomiting, joint pains, hearing impairment, etc.


According to experts, the Kappa variant, also known as B.1.167.1, is a double mutant strain of the virus that has raised red flags and prompted global gene surveillance to check for its prevalence and propagation. The double mutation is a distant lineage since it consists of two viral types. The E484Q mutation, which is identical to the E484K mutation identified in the fast-spreading Brazilian and South African variants of concern, is one of them. It also contains the L452R mutation, which allows the virus to evade our immune system’s natural defences.


The Health Ministry on Friday said the Lambda variant of Covid-19 was still being explored, and had not entered India yet. He said for now, it was a ‘variant of interest’.

On June 14, the WHO designated it as a “Variant of Interest." In August 2020, the variation was discovered in Peru, and it has since spread to 29 nations, predominantly in Latin America.

The Lambda variation has also made its way to the United Kingdom, where it has been added to the list of variants under research by Public Health England. Because of its significant alterations, such as L452Q and F490S, the variant is worrying. There is currently no proof that the variant causes more severe diseases or renders immunizations ineffective, according to UK health officials.

B.11.318 and B.1.617.3

The B1.617.3 is a member of the B.1.617 lineage, which was first discovered in India. It’s a cousin of the Delta variety B.1.617.2, which was responsible for India’s fatal second wave.

So far, no health authority has classified the B.1.617.3 variation as a variant of interest or concern.

According to a report in the Times of India, the B.11.318 variant features the mutation E484K, which is identical to Kappa, and India has reported two genome sequences of this new variant so far.

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first published:July 09, 2021, 16:00 IST