computer illustration of coronavirus delta variant mutation concept
On Thursday evening, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) announced the first case of the delta variant of the Covid-19 virus in Nigeria. It was detected in a traveller, an unidentified national from an unnamed country, and the virus was detected during a routine test carried out on all travellers into the country. 

News of the detection of this new variant just sounded like when Nigeria detected its first Covid-18 case back in February 2020. Then, Nigeria, and the world as a whole, was yet to realise how it would be affected by the virus. Now, after a series of lockdowns and over 180 million confirmed cases, with 4 million deaths worldwide, everyone knows COVID is not something to take lightly. 

The delta variant, also known as the B.1.617.2 lineage, was first detected in India back in December 2020, and in no time, became the dominant variant in the country. It’s little wonder why India has recorded over 30 million confirmed cases with over 400 thousand deaths. Currently, it is also the dominant variant in the United Kingdom, where it is threatening to shatter their plans of permanently ending the lockdown and relaxing some social distancing rules. Countries like South Africa are also having a phase of a national lockdown due to the delta variant.

It has been described as highly transmissible, more than the alpha variant that kept the world on standstill last year. Last week, the delta variant accounted for 51.7% of new cases in the United States, five times more than it was just four weeks ago. It has been described as a “variant of concern” and everyone is expected to be on guard against the variant. 

The good side to this, however, is that some of the available vaccines are effective against the variant. Many of the people who have contracted it are those who are unvaccinated. What that means is getting vaccinated is one sure way of protecting yourself from this variant. 

The unfortunate thing, however, is that a large population of the world is still unvaccinated. In Nigeria, less than 3 million people or roughly 1% of the population have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. What this means is that the country is still very vulnerable to another wave of Covid infections, which could become worse with this new delta variant. For now, we have just one confirmed case, which is from someone coming into the country, but we may have community infections in the coming weeks if care is not taken. 

The only chance we have is by following laid down COVID guidelines and regulations, such as maintaining social distancing, washing of hands regularly, and making use of nose masks. If you suspect you have COVID symptoms, you should reach out to NCDC for the nearest COVID testing centre. 

The Government also has to do what it can to make sure that people coming into the country are well tested and they should also be proactive about contact tracing since Covid symptoms take days before they begin to show. 

By doing what is necessary, we can prevent a wave of delta variant infection in Nigeria.