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What Makes Delta the Most Disruptive Virus Variant

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The variant carries a genetic mutation that helps it to bind more easily to ACE2, a protein on some human cells, potentially enabling it to cause infections more readily. Concentrations of virus particles, or viral loads, in the airways of individuals recently infected with delta were about 1,200 times greater than in those infected with the original coronavirus strain, a study in China found. The research, released without pre-publication review by experts in the same field, also noted that delta was detectable in patients four days after picking up the virus — two days sooner than was previously observed, indicating the strain replicates faster and may make individuals more infectious during the early stages of infection. A short incubation period may make it more difficult to prevent outbreaks by tracing the contacts of infected people and requiring them to quarantine, a strategy relied on heavily by countries such as China and Australia; a shorter incubation makes it more difficult to identify contacts before they are themselves infectious.

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