All the news about the newest variant of covid19 is unquestionably terrifying.
The full impact of the mutated delta version of the virus (B.1.617.2), is still to be measured this early in its spread. And already, there is a new delta plus variant in circulation.
It is one of several variants to emerge from countries which have had high infection rates. The sharp rise in infections caused by this specific strain has been masked by falling infection rates for the alpha, or original form of the virus.
As vaccination becomes more widespread in populations, and resistance and hospital requirements are reduced, it wasn't easy to see the surge in infections caused by more aggressive variant strains.
But in the UK, Portugal and Russia, increasing numbers of the delta variant began a precipitous rise that quickly overtook alpha variant covid19 in all three countries.
The aggressiveness of transmission has led to the emergence of a new term in the lexicon of covid19 analysis, "fleeting contact," a reference to the astonishingly short contact time that the delta variant requires for infection.
Covid19 originally spread in environments that brought people into close quarters, breathing the same air for extended periods of time, increasing the viral load for the uninfected.
There are currently four identified variants of concern, and all spread faster than the original. Among them, the delta strain is the most contagious. It’s believed that it can be transmitted in less than 15 seconds.
Vaccination remains the best option for defence against infection, or serious infection, and the vaccines provide protection against the variants.
This is why this country should be especially worried about the prospect of opening its borders in the near future.
That could mean inviting the delta variant into a country where only a fraction of the population is protected by vaccination to date, and where the parallel public health care system for covid19 is already under massive strain.
India, where the delta variant evolved, which is one of the largest pharmaceutical manufacturers in the world, has stopped exporting the vaccines it produces. The country needs to manufacture ten million doses per day for its own population, and currently produces just three million.
India is still fighting to manage infections, which at their peak, soared to over 300,000 daily cases.
It takes just one person to spread a new version of covid19. So TT's measures must be prophylactic, beginning with systems to test and track all known arrivals.
This country will not dodge the delta strain, so it's important to capitalise on this window to create effective systems that identify and manage patients infected with the delta variant safely and humanely to ensure their recovery while limiting the potential to spread.
That plan and the reasons for it must be communicated clearly with the public if TT is to prepare effectively for the threat of the evolving covid19 virus.