Delta variant poised for comeback, Ben-Gurion University researchers warn

“Our model indicates there could be another outbreak of Delta or another coronavirus variant this summer.”

By David Hellerman, World Israel News

A new paper published by researchers at Israel’s Ben-Gurion University of the Negev warns that the Delta variant of the coronavirus may make a comeback even as other Omicron variants fizzle out in the next few months.

While Delta wiped out the variants that preceded it, Omicron has not eliminated Delta, according to Prof. Ariel Kushmaro and Dr. Karin Yaniv. Their findings were just published in the peer-reviewed journal Science of the Total Environment.

Prof. Kushmaro’s lab team developed sensitive arrays capable of differentiating COVID variants from each other in wastewater. Wastewater continues to give indications of where the coronavirus is active, even as diagnoses of people based on PCR and rapid testing decrease.

The team monitored Beersheba’s sewage from December 2021 to January 2022. The two-month study paid special attention to the interaction between the Omicron and Delta variants.

After building a model with Prof. Rony Granek, also of Ben-Gurion University, the researchers predicted that Omicron is dying out while Delta “bides its time.”

“Of course, there are a lot of factors involved, but our model indicates there could be another outbreak of Delta or another coronavirus variant this summer,” warned Prof. Kushmaro.

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According to the latest Health Ministry figures, Israel is dealing with 21,543 active cases of COVID-19 of which 185 are considered serious. Since the pandemic’s breakout, Israel has reported 10,698 deaths. World-wide, COVID has claimed more than 6.2 million lives.