By Simon Muli
A Facebook post contains claims about the Delta variant of the COVID-19 virus. The post makes many claims. The first is that people who are infected with the Delta variant do not present with cough and fever as symptoms.
“With the new Covid Delta virus. There is no cough, no fever. That’s a lot of joint pain, headaches, neck and upper back pain, general weakness, loss of appetite, and pneumonia,” reads part of the post.
Delta is one of the four COVID-19 variants of concern identified by the World Health Organization (WHO). It is associated with high transmissibility and virulence. Also known as B.1.617.2, the variant was first identified in India in late 2020, almost a year after the first variant, Alpha, was detected. Other designated variants of concern include Beta and Gamma.
However, the claim that cough and fever are not symptoms of the Delta variant is not entirely true. While the symptoms associated with COVID-19 may be changing due to the rise of the new variants, fever is still one of them, according to the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisations (GAVI). So is cough, although it is rare.
The second claim is that the Delta variant causes a “higher death rate”.
“It takes less time to go to extremes. Sometimes without symptoms !! Let’s be more careful!” the post adds.
The WHO says available evidence does not suggest it causes a higher death rate as claimed.
“We have in two countries seen data suggesting that there is an increased risk in hospitalisation. We have not seen that translate into increased severity, increased death. We have not seen Delta translate into a higher case fatality rate,” COVID-19 Technical Lead at the WHO, Maria Van Kerkhove, says.
The third claim in the post is that the Delta variant returns negative reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR)-based tests. “This strain does not live in the nasopharyngeal region !! now it directly affects the lungs, which means the “windows”, reads the claim.
“Nasal swab tests are very often negative for Covid-19 !!, and there are more and more false negatives of nasopharyngeal tests. This means that the virus spreads and spreads directly to the lungs, causing acute respiratory stress caused by viral pneumonia,” it adds.
The post then asks people to adhere to the same protective measures emphasised by public health bodies, including the WHO.
According to Health Desk, all tests taken for the Delta variant, including ones that return positive, are swabbed from the “nasopharyngeal region” in the nose.
“There is currently no current research that says the Delta variant is not being detected in the nasopharyngeal region,” reads the information by Health Desk.
Nonetheless, Health Desk adds that as the virus mutates, the part of the virus that COVID-19 tests target might change characteristics affecting the accuracy of tests and leading to more false negatives.
But the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says most RT-PCR-based tests have multiple targets to detect the virus, such that even if a mutation impacts one of the targets, the other RT-PCR targets will still work.
PesaCheck has looked into the Facebook post making claims about the Delta variant of the COVID-19 virus and finds it to be MISLEADING.
This story was produced by Africa Uncensored in partnership with Code for Africa with support from Deutsche Welle Akademie.