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Covid-19 Delta variant: Epidemiologist warns of possible explosion in cases

Tempo - June 15, 2021

Dewi Nurita, Jakarta – Epidemiologist from the Griffith University of Australia, Dicky Budiman, asked the government to be aware of the spread of the Covid-19 delta variant (B.1.617.2) from India which has already entered a number of regions in Indonesia.

Dicky said this variant is a super strain as it is highly contagious and can also increase the severity of symptoms and affect the effectiveness of the vaccine. Current studies suggest that only Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines that are not affected by the new variant.

"The Delta variant which will likely trigger the explosion of cases in Indonesia meets the criteria as a super strain. This is an epidemic threat in the midst of a pandemic. This is very serious," Dicky said when contacted by Tempo on Monday, June 14, 2021.

The government data shows that this variant entered Indonesia last May. Based on the modeling in a number of countries, he added, the new variant exploded 3-6 months after it was first discovered.

"So the current explosion in Kudus, for example, is not the result of the delta variant. It's still too fast. If it enters in May, it means we have a lot of homework as the potential for an explosion in cases will be after July," Dicky said.

Based on the Health Ministry's data as of June 13 obtained by Tempo, there have been 104 cases of the new variant in five provinces, namely South Sumatra (3 cases in Palembang, Prabumulih, Penukal Abab Lematang Ilir), Jakarta (20 cases), Central Java (75 cases spread in Kudus, Brebes, Cilacap), Central Kalimantan (3 cases in Gunung Mas, Palangkaraya) and East Kalimantan (3 cases in Samarinda).

Dicky opined that the government needs to adjust its strategy for handling Covid-19 to suppress the explosion of cases due to this delta variant. "There are three mix strategies that must be carried out; conducting massive and aggressive testing, massive vaccination, and even lockdown. This is difficult for Indonesia but we must really be prepared for it," he said.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/1472710/covid-19-delta-variant-epidemiologist-warns-of-possible-explosion-in-case