The Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research (NMIMR) has observed, “with concern,” some characteristics of the new Delta variant of SARS-Cov-2 detected at the institute’s testing centre since April 2021.
In a statement issued on Saturday, 24 July 2021, the Institute said the “positive cases have very high viral loads indicated by low cut-off thresholds (CT values) obtained in the real-time RT-PCR assay.”
The CT values for the majority are between 15 and 20 compared to higher values above 30, seen previously, NMIMR noted.
The Institute also said it has observed that “the positive individuals are taking longer to clear the virus,” explaining: “This is evident in the number of retests that still test positive.”
NMIMR also revealed that its recent sequencing of SARS-Cov-2 has revealed an “increased circulation of the Delta variant in Ghanaian communities compared to the earlier Alpha variants.
“The higher viral loads observed in recent cases are attributable to the Delta variant,” the statement said.
Transmission of SARS-Cov-2 is directly linked to how much virus is shed in droplets during sneezing and coughing, which also determines the spread through talking, singing and other related activities.
The Delta variant has been reported to spread faster than the other variants and our testing observations confirm that.
The statement said some clinical specimen submitted to the Institute have tested positive with high viral loads.
“Also, 7.34 per cent (840/6,538) of the positive cases recorded from asymptomatic persons who visit the walk-in centre to test for travel, work- or school-related purposes from 1 June to 22 July 2021, have equally high viral load,” NMIMR noted.
Noguchi warned: “With a population of more than 80 per cent unvaccinated, the country must be concerned that if these, apparently healthy carriers, transmit the virus to the unvaccinated, we may have a more serious outbreak to deal with as a nation.”
Some of these positive cases, it noted, “have taken the full dose of COVID-19 vaccines.
“It is, therefore, recommended that the government take a second look at the state of adherence to COVID-19 preventive protocols and appropriate restrictions.”
Currently, the number of active COVID-19 cases in Ghana has shot up to 4,094, the latest figures from the Ghana Health Service indicate.
Some 423 new cases have been confirmed.
The death toll has also risen to 823.
Since March 12, 2020, the total number of COVID-19 cases recorded in Ghana up to date is 101,170.
Out of that number 96,255 have recovered.
A few days ago, President Nana Akufo-Addo said the rising number of active COVID-19 cases shows that “we’ve let our guard down.”
Addressing Muslims at the Eid-ul-Adha celebration at the National Central Mosque at Kanda, Accra, President Akufo-Addo said: “The COVID-19 pandemic is still with us – unfortunately.”
“This means that for the second year running, we are having to hold a subdued Eid celebration,” he observed.
“As we continue to count on the grace of God to protect our country from the ravages of the pandemic like he has since its outbreak, we can only minimise its health effects and avoid a full-blown third wave if we continue to be responsible and observe the safety and hygiene protocols.”
He noted: “The recent increase in the number of infections is a source of worry for me and, indeed, for all Ghanaians.
“From the rising numbers, it is safe to conclude that we have let our guard down and are beginning to live our lives and conduct our businesses as though we are in normal times.
“It is important to repeat that the virus is still with us and until each one of us receives a dose of the vaccine, the protocols must continue to be a part and parcel of our daily activities,” he added.