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UK Covid surge sparks calls for urgent investigation into Delta Plus

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Weekly deaths from the virus have topped 800 for each of the past six weeks.

Former US Food and Drug Administration commissioner Scott Gottlieb called for “urgent research” into a mutation of the Delta variant – known as Delta Plus – after a surge in Covid-19 cases in the UK.

“We urgently need research to find out if this Delta Plus is more permeable, partial immune evasion,” Gottlieb said in a tweet.

“There is no clear indication that it is significantly more permeable, but we should be working to characterize these and other new forms more quickly. We have the tools.”

Gottlieb’s remarks came as the UK reported its highest daily jump in new cases since mid-July – when Prime Minister Boris Johnson authorized the lifting of most Covid-related restrictions in what was dubbed “Independence Day” had gone.

Weekly deaths from the virus have topped 800 for each of the past six weeks, higher than in other major Western European countries, according to Bloomberg’s coronavirus tracker. To date, the UK has recorded around 140,000 Covid-related fatalities.

The delta plus strain contains the K417N mutation, which has raised concern as it is also harbored by beta variants that are associated with an increased risk of reinfection.

UK researchers said in late June that there was no evidence yet that the additional mutation was more worrisome. A German paper earlier this month found that while both Delta and Delta Plus infect lung cells more efficiently than the original coronavirus strain, Delta Plus does not appear to be more dangerous than Delta.

Gottlieb, who served on Pfizer’s board of directors, led the FDA from 2017 to 2019. He is promoting his new book, “Uncontrollable Spread: Why Covid-19 Crushed Us and How We Can Defeat the Next Pandemic”.

(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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