Severe and unusual symptoms found in Covid-19 patients in India, have been linked to a mutant strain of the virus, with epidemiologists elsewhere believing the strain to be substantially more transmissible.
The Delta variant of the virus was first identified in October 2020 in India, where it caused complete devastation during the country's second wave, before spreading across the world.
Earlier this month, a family from Victoria who had travelled in southern NSW, was found to have the Delta variant.
According to a confronting new report by Bloomberg, the Delta variant can producing some horror symptoms.
The publication spoke to Covid doctors who reported patients suffering from hearing impairment, severe gastric upsets and blood clots leading to gangrene – all symptoms doctors in India linked to the Delta variant.
A further six doctors in the country confirmed Covid-19 patients in India are experiencing stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, hearing loss and joint pain.
Infectious disease physician at the Apollo Hospital in Chennai, Abdul Ghafur, told Bloomberg more research is needed to determine if these symptoms are linked to the variant.
He says he has seen more Covid-19 patients with diarrhoea in India's second wave than the first early on in the pandemic.
Ganesh Manudhane, a cardiologist in Mumbai, said he has treated eight patients for small blood clots which result in the tissue dying and patients developing gangrene.
"I saw three-to-four cases the whole of last year, and now it's one patient a week. We suspect it could be because of the new virus variant," he said, according to India Today.
Experts believe the strain to be about 60 per cent more transmissible, compared to the Alpha variant, which was first documented in the UK in December 2020. As a result, it threatens to derail plans for the UK to fully open up in the coming weeks.
Neil Ferguson of Imperial College London told reporters that estimates of Delta's transmission edge over Alpha had narrowed, and "we think 60 per cent is probably the best estimate".
However, it was unclear how any spike in hospitalisations would translate into a rise in deaths, as more detail was needed on how well Covid-19 vaccines protects against serious illness from Delta.
"I think deaths probably would be lower, the vaccines are having a highly protective effect... still it could be quite worrying. But there is a lot of uncertainty," he told Reuters.
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