What experts know about the new Delta strain found in Sydney – and should we be worried about an ‘Australian variant’?
- NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant said new Delta strain has been found
- Epidemiologist Catherine Bennett said it’s possible variant originated in NSW
- She said there was nothing to suggest the strain would be better or worse
A new strain of the highly-contagious Delta variant has been found in New South Wales but epidemiologists say there shouldn’t be any cause for concern just yet.
The state’s chief health officer Dr Kerry Chant confirmed on Friday that the new form had been found in eight Covid-infected residents.
Seven of the eight cases with the new variant are from the same family – all of whom showed the same type of symptoms as the standard Delta strain.
‘We’ve found a new strain of Delta that has different sequencing to the current strain circulating in Sydney,’ Dr Chant said as she announced the latest figures in a live video address on Friday.
A new strain of the highly-contagious Delta variant has been found in New South Wales but epidemiologists say there shouldn’t be any cause for concern just yet
The state’s top doctor said investigations into the new discovery were still ongoing, but that the new strain appeared no more dangerous than the original form of Delta.
‘There is no evidence that this new strain presents any differences regarding transmission, vaccine effectiveness or severity,’ Dr Chant said.
Professor Catherine Bennett, Chair of Epidemiology at Deakin University said it was possible the new Delta strain evolved within NSW or that it was brought in from a returning international traveller.
‘There’s nothing to suggest it’s any better or worse, it might be that there’s variation amongst the Delta variant,’ she told Daily Mail Australia.
‘There may be some differences in the Delta variant to have some not quite as bad strains and some that are more bad.
‘This could have possibly evolved in Sydney but it may not compete with the other Delta strain we’ve seen already.’
Professor Catherine Bennett, Chair of Epidemiology at Deakin University said it was possible the new Delta strain evolved within NSW or that it was brought in from a returning international traveller
Professor Bennett explained that every time the virus passed through a human there were slight changes and ‘chance mutations’ in the particles, meaning the new version of the virus could have originated in Australia.
These mutations can allow the virus to become more infectious and that variant becomes the new dominant strain.
While there is little known about the new form of Delta, Professor Bennett added it was unlikely that the different form of the virus would affect vaccination coverage.
‘If health authorities found someone positive and they were really sick and everyone around them was very sick they’d be more anxious but we haven’t heard anything like that,’ she said.
‘It could be more benign, if it really takes over it could be slightly more infectious but if it sits there with the other Delta strain, then it’s just another form of the virus.’
She said health authorities would now be looking at the genomic sequencing of the new variant to see if it has appeared anywhere else in the world.
Clinical data will be utilised to determine whether or not the variant of the virus was brought into Australia or if it originated here.
The news came as the state recorded 646 new Covid cases and 11 deaths with the virus.
The 11 Covid-related fatalities in the 24 hours to 8pm on Thursday night included two women and nine men.
Seven of them were not vaccinated, three had received one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, and one had received two doses.
The news came as the state recorded 646 new Covid cases and 11 deaths with the virus