Gangrene, hearing loss point to Covid-19 Delta strain being more severe


The coronavirus variant that drove India’s devastating Covid-19 epidemic is the most infectious to emerge so far. Doctors now wish to realize whether it’s also more severe.

Hearing impairment, severe gastric upsets and blood clots leading to gangrene, symptoms not normally seen in Covid patients, have been linked by doctors in India to the so-called Delta variant. In England and Scotland, early evidence suggests the now-dominant strain carries a higher risk of hospitalization.

Delta, sometimes called B.1.617.2, has spread to more than 60 countries over the last six months and triggered shuttle curbs from Australia to the U.S. A spike in infections, fueled by the Delta variant, has put pressure on the U.K. government to reconsider its plans of reopening later this month. Higher rates of transmission compared with other variants, and a discount in the effectiveness of vaccines, have made understanding the strain’s effects particularly critical.

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“We need more scientific research to analyze whether these newer clinical presentations are linked to B.1.617 or not,” said Abdul Ghafur, an infectious disease physician at the Apollo Hospital in Chennai, southern India’s largest city. Ghafur said he’s seeing more Covid-19 patients with diarrhea now than in the initial wave of the epidemic.

‘New enemy’

“Final year, we thought we had learned approximately our new enemy, but it changed,” Ghafur said. “This virus has turn into so, so unpredictable.”

Belly pain, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, hearing loss and joint pain are a number of the ailments Covid-19 patients are experiencing, according to six doctors treating patients across India. Beta and Gamma variants–first detected in South Africa and Brazil respectively–have shown little or no evidence of producing different clinical signs, according to a study by researchers from University of New South Wales final month.

Some patients develop micro thrombi, or small blood clots, so severe that they led affected tissue to die and develop gangrene, said Ganesh Manudhane, a Mumbai cardiologist, who has treated eight patients for thrombotic complications at the Seven Hills Hospital throughout the past two months. Two required amputations of fingers or a foot.

“I saw three-to-four cases the whole of final year, and now it’s one patient a week,” Manudhane said.

Baffling clots

India has reported 18.6 million Covid-19 cases thus far in 2021, compared with 10.3 million final year. The Delta variant was once the “primary cause” in the back of the country’s deadlier second wave and is 50% more contagious than the Alpha strain that was once first spotted in the U.K., according to a recent study by an Indian government panel.

The surge in cases may have driven an increase in the frequency with which infrequent Covid-19 complications are being observed. Even still, Manudhane said he’s baffled by the blood clots he’s seeing in patients across age groups with no past history of coagulation-related problems.

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“We suspect it could be as a result of the new virus variant,” he said. Manudhane is collecting data to study why some people develop the clots and others don’t.

Doctors are also finding instances of clots forming in blood vessels that provide the intestines, causing patients to experience belly pain — their only symptom, native media have reported.

Some Covid patients are also seeking medical deal with hearing loss, swelling around the neck and severe tonsillitis, said Hetal Marfatia, an ear nose and throat surgeon at Mumbai’s King Edward Memorial Hospital.

“Each and every person is showing different symptoms” in the second one wave, she said.

‘Abnormal presentations’

The atypical presentations for Delta and a closely related variant referred to as Kappa, whose spread led to a fourth lockdown in Melbourne, are still being confirmed, said Raina MacIntyre, a professor of global biosecurity at the University of New South Wales in Sydney. “In the interim, it is very important consider of this and take note of conceivable odd presentations,” she said.

The most alarming aspect of the present epidemic in India is the rapidity with which the virus is spreading, including to children, said Chetan Mundada, a pediatrician with the Yashoda group of hospitals in Hyderabad.

Apollo’s Ghafur said he was once also seeing entire families with Covid symptoms, instead of the individuals that dominated final year, reflecting an increase in household transmission caused by the Delta variant.

Cases of Mucormycosis — a infrequent opportunistic fungal infection — have also been surging in India. It had infected more than 8,800 Covid patients and survivors as of May 22, forcing native health care authorities to call it an epidemic.

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Even as India’s outbreak begins to ease — day by day infections have slipped to approximately a quarter of the May 7 peak — Delta has sparked outbreaks elsewhere, including virus havens such as Taiwan, Singapore and Vietnam, bolstering calls for mass immunization.

But with emerging evidence Delta and a minimum of one other variant could also be adept at evading vaccine-induced antibodies, pharmaceutical companies are under pressure to tweak existing shots or develop new ones.

“New vaccines have to prepared with new variants in brain,” said Ghafur. “We will be able to’t get ahead of the virus, but a minimum of we will least stay alongside of it.”

(With the help of P R Sanjai.)

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