The Delta variant might spread faster than other strains of the coronavirus because it makes more copies of itself inside our bodies quicker than other strains of the coronavirus.
In research posted online last week, Chinese scientists detected Delta viral loads that were about 1,260 times higher than earlier strains on initial positive tests. They compared 62 Delta cases with 63 cases from the early epidemic wave in 2020.
Moreover, the amount of time it took quarantined people to test positive for Covid-19 on PCR also shortened – from about six days with the earlier infections to four days with Delta.
“These data highlight that the Delta variant could be more infectious during the early stage of the infection,” the researchers wrote.
Some context: Delta outbreaks in China have prompted some local governments to shorten the window for a negative test in order to travel from 72 hours to 48 hours.
According to Public Health England, a number of analyses have shown Delta to be more transmissible, including lab studies that suggest “increased replication in biological systems that model human airway, and evidence of optimized furin cleavage” – a process that activates the virus’ entry into the human cell. The variant has also been observed to spread faster in real-world epidemiological studies.
According to the World Health Organization, Delta is estimated to spread roughly 55% faster than the Alpha variant first identified in the UK, and roughly twice as fast as variants that do not rise to the level of “interest” or “concern.”