Is delta plus worse than the delta variant? Here’s what the latest research says

By Arianne Cohen

August 04, 2021

What is Delta Plus?

Not to be confused with Delta Air Lines Comfort Plus, delta plus is an emerging variant of COVID-19. It is essentially delta with a bit of mutation. All viruses mutate, so this in itself is not interesting.

So why do we care?

Because delta plus has cropped up in the U.K., the United States, Portugal, India, Canada, Germany, Russia, and, this week, South Korea, which indicates that it’s transmissible and spreads far and wide. It could easily become a dominant strain.

Is it like delta but more powerful?

No, it’s not laundry detergent. The “plus” is misleading. So far, some researchers in India think that delta plus may be more resistant to some treatments, as well as possibly more transmissible, though both are debated. We would likely know by now if delta plus were a hellion variant that will kill us all, but empirical research is needed.

Is anyone watching this?

Everyone. The World Health Organization (WHO) lists delta plus as a “variant of concern,” which means that it may go on to infect the whole world, or it may not. Its numbers are still quite small—India in late July was reporting 70 cases.

Do vaccines protect against it?

So far, the COVID-19 vaccines appear to offer similar protection to delta and delta plus, but again, it’s early days, and further research is needed.

Is Delta Plus new?

It first appeared in global databases in March, meaning that it was already spreading at least six months ago.

Who should I feel sorry for here?

Delta Air Lines and Delta Burke, whose names are now associated with an epidemiological nightmare.

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